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Kazimir Malevich

suprematism

Organized by Matthew Drutt i

i

,

Essays by

Matthew

Gunanova, Jean-Claude

Drutt, Nina

Marcade. Tatiana Mikhienko, Evgenia Vasilii

A Guggenheim Museum 272 pages; 180

In

.

art

120

illustrations,

when

color

(1878-1935) changed the future of

experiments

his

in full

in

painting led the Russian

avant-garde into pure abstraction. He called

Suprematism—ra'h

art of

his

innovation

pure geometric form meant to be

universally comprehensible origin.

and

Publication

1915,' Kazimir Malevich

Modern

Re'trova,

>

Rakitin

regardless

of

cultural

or

His Suprematist masterpieces, including Black

ethnic

Square

(1915) and White Square on White (1920-27), continue to inspire artists

throughout the world.

Accompanying the this

defining

moment

first

exhibition to focus exclusively on

Malevich's- career, Kazimir Malevich;

in

.Suprematism features nearly 120 paintings, drawings, and

among them

objects,

works.

In

letters, texts,

scholars,

several

addition, the

and

diaries,

who shed new

devotion to the spiritual

recently rediscovered

master-

book includes previously unpublished along with essays

light

on

by. international

this influential figure

and

his

in art.

m

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Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism


Kazimir Malevich

MATTHEW DRUTT

u->

Guggenheim m us eu M


on the occasion

Published

of the exhibition

Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism

Organized by Matthew Drutt

Deutsche Guggenheim

Berlin

January 14-April 27, 2003

Solomon

R.

Guggenheim Museum, New York

May 13-September7, 2003 The Menil October

Collection,

3,

Houston

2003-January

This exhibition

is

1

1

,

2004

sponsored by

^

/4L FAB/INK

Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism

Š 2003 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York. All rights

All

reserved.

works used by permission.

ISBN:

0-89207-265-2

Guggenheim Museum 1071

Fifth

Publications

Avenue

New York, New York 10128 Hardcover edition distributed by Harry N. Abrams,

100

Fifth

Inc.

Avenue

New York, New York Book

10011

design: Eileen Boxer

Printed

in

Germany by Cantz

Production: Elizabeth Levy, Tracy Hennige Editorial: Elizabeth

Franzen, Stephen Hoban, Jennifer

Knox White


n O

CO

8

Preface

THOMAS

KRENS, JAMES

Acknowledgments

T

DEMETRION

10

MATTHEW DRUTT Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism

16

MATTHEW DRUTT Malevich, Painting, and Writing:

On

the Development of a Suprematist Philosophy

32

JEAN-CLAUDE MARCADE

The Supremus "Laboratory House": Reconstructing the Journal

44

NINA GURIANOVA

The Optimism of a Nonobjectivist

60

VASILII RAKITIN

The Suprematist Column

— A Monument to Nonobjective Art

TATIANA MIKHIENKO

Malevich's Suprematism

and

Religion

YEVGENIA PETROVA

Plates

Letters

96

and Documents

Exhibitions

238

252

Index of Reproductions

266

88

78


a JO

>

n

On

the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the

Museum and The

Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism. Our collaboration

were

respective institutions

period

in

birth,

artist's

the Solomon

Menil Collection are very pleased to join together is

Guggenheim

R.

the presentation of

especially fitting, for the founders of our

inspired by the spiritual quest

and aesthetic

ideals that exemplify the

Malevich's art explored by this exhibition. Furthermore, his art

generations of European and American

in

became

a standard for

whose works form the cornerstones

artists,

of our

distinct collections.

For the

Guggenheim,

this exhibition

of the Russian avant-garde that

Chagall,

Natalia

Goncharova,

began

is

the latest manifestation of a

early

in

Lanonov,

Mikhail

Malevich entered the collection at an early stage. Moreover, the exhibitions devoted to Russian artists, with

Kandinsky alone. The by the (

1

Guggenheim

first

in

El

and Kazimir

Lissitzky,

museum

has

mounted many

no fewer than nineteen since 1945 devoted

great retrospective of Malevich's

work

in this

in

to

country was presented

1973, with definitive exhibitions of Chagall (1975 and 1993) and

986) following shortly thereafter. Art of the Avant Garde

Collection (1981)

to the art

the institution's history. Masterworks by Marc

Kandinsky,

Vasily

commitment

Russia: Selections

Gabo

from the Costakis

and The Great Utopia: The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde,

1915-1932

remain the two most comprehensive exhibitions ever mounted on the subject, while

Amazons

of the Avant-Garde (2000) offered fresh insights into an understudied aspect of Russian

modernism.

The Menil Collection also contains important works by Russian

artists,

including Ivan Kliun,

Larionov, Lissitzky,

and Malevich. But

prise that finds

greatest affinity with the Menil's history and collections. Beginning with the

its

construction of the Rothko Chapel

commitment

it

in

is

the spiritual idealism at the heart of Malevich's enter-

1971, John and Dominique de Menil demonstrated a

to the notion of a sanctuary defined by

lated into the building designed by

modern works

Renzo Piano to house

of art that ultimately trans-

their collection in 1987. Installations

of sacred art from Antiquity, Byzantium, and the Medieval eras, along with galleries devoted to

the

tribal arts

of Africa, Oceana, and the Northwest Coast, provide an historical backdrop to

depth presentations of modern including

Dan

Flavin,

Barnett

artists

whose own works have

Newman, Mark

in-

a spiritual or enigmatic character,

Rothko, and Cy Twombly. Moreover,

this exhibition


of Malevich's

work

deeper look

offers a

something

at a particular aspect of the artist's career,

that has long been a feature of Menil exhibitions, resulting

new

in

insights

about

artists

long

thought to be well understood.

We so

are therefore greatly indebted to

much

all

of the lenders

to this project's success. At an historical

and scholars

moment when

challenging to sustain sufficient funding for arts programming,

acknowledged here

for their support of this

must thank Alfa Bank, Moscow, and Directors, for his leadership

in

we

tion

particular Mikhail

and continued support.

and The Judith Rothschild Foundation

opening dinner

Foundation,

Inc.,

in

New

York.

who

has

have contributed

become

are deeply grateful to those

We

Fndman, Chairman

would

for their

also like to thank Alexander

We

are indebted to Harvey

in

Houston

The Menil Collection would

Finally,

we

like

to

acknowledge The Brown Inc.,

and The Wortham

his

skillful

The Solomon

T.

R.

Guggenheim Foundation

DEMETRION

Interim Director,

made

The Menil Collection

Matthew

and thoughtful organization

THOMAS KRENS

JAMES

generosity

express our deepest appreciation to

publication.

Director,

whose

We

are also

the presentation of this exhibi-

possible.

for

Collection,

individuals

S.

generous support of the exhibi-

The Cullen Foundation, Houston Endowment,

most grateful to the many

we

of the Board of

Foundation, for their ongoing support of the museum's programs and operations.

tion

increasingly

landmark exhibition. At the Guggenheim,

Gafin and Svetlana Smirnova for their creativity and dedication. Shipley Miller

it

Drutt, Chief Curator of

of

this

The Menil

ambitious exhibition and


> n 7S

O o

The opportunity to

new documentary toward

ing

upon Kazimir Malevich's

reflect

deep and meaningful way

art in a

been able to do so with the benefit of rediscovered works of

lege enough. To have

materials

this exhibition,

is

a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

privi-

is

art

and

Over the past four years of work-

an extraordinary number of people generously shared resources and

provided crucial guidance and advice.

I

must

first

of

all

thank the key representatives of the

Russian Federation, Mikhail Shwydkoi, Minister of Culture, and Pavel Khoroshilov, Deputy

Mochanov, Deputy

Minister of Culture; Denis

Museum Department this project.

of the

I

am

Solomon

also

R.

at the Ministry, for their

and Anna Kolupaeva, Head of the

Minister;

generous patronage and ongoing support of

once again most indebted to Nicolas

Guggenheim Foundation,

inception and realization of the exhibition.

European Representative

V. Iljine,

for the important role he played I

must

throughout the

my profound

also express

gratitude to

Krystyna Gmurzynska and Mathias Rastorfer of Galerie Gmurzynska Cologne and Galerie

Gmurzynska Zug

who were

Switzerland,

in

private collections, but

who

not only most helpful

arranging key loans from

in

much needed moral support throughout

also provided

the

trials

of bringing this exhibition together.

am

I

Collection,

who

to Susan

grateful

especially

managed

deftly

all

Braeuer,

Megan

who

Luke, formerly Project Curatorial Assistant at the

work on the

thanked

for her

Advisor,

Guggenheim

Menil

aspects of the exhibition and catalogue, with additional

assistance provided by Karolina Zelinka, Curatorial Assistant, Menil.

Assistant at The

Curatorial

Project

exhibition's early stages,

and

also supported

Guggenheim,

Zelfira Tregulova,

is

me

at the

also to be

formerly Curatorial

Russian Projects, once again provided invaluable assistance with regard

to Russian lenders. This exhibition

broke

all

had

its

first

previous records for attendance.

I

would

therefore

and Friedhelm Hutte, Global Heads of Deutsche Bank Reichenbach, Gallery Manager;

and

his

Guggenheim

manifestation at the Deutsche

Uwe Rommel, Head

like

Art,

to thank

GTG

as well assistance of their colleagues Sara Bernshausen, Britta Farber,

his

predecessor,

Ned

10

am most

thankful to James

Rifkin, as well as to Louisa

where

it

von

Art Handler and Exhibition Technician,

the intricate preparations for and installation of the exhibition there.

I

Berlin,

Ariane Gngoteit

as well as Svenja Grafin

team; and Volker Lohs, Deutsche Bank House Technician of

At The Menil Collection,

Dr.

T.

I

for their oversight of

would

like to

recognize

and Jbrg Klambt.

Demetrion, Interim Director, and

Stude Sarofim and our entire Board of Trustees,


staunch support and enthusiasm for the show.

for their

individuals at the Menil

Head

of Exhibitions

Elizabeth

Services;

who

contributed

I

many ways

in

and Programs; Anne Adams,

am

also indebted to the following

to this exhibition:

Registrar;

Deborah

Velders,

Gary "Bear" Parham, Head of Art

Lunning, Chief Conservator; Vance Muse,

Head

of

Communications;

William Taylor, Director of Planning and Advancement; and John Reed, retired Chief Financial

and EC. Moore, Chief

Officer,

At the Solomon for his

Financial Officer.

Guggenheim Museum,

R.

I

must

ongoing support both during my tenure

indebted to the bition: Lisa

many

individuals there

whose

first

at the

of

all

thank Thomas Krens, Director,

Guggenheim and beyond.

I

am

also

efforts contributed to the success of this exhi-

Dennison, Deputy Director and Chief Curator; Marion Kahan, Exhibition Program

Manager; Brendan Connell, Assistant General Counsel; Meryl Cohen, Director of Registration

and Art

Services; Elissa Myerowitz, Associate Registrar; Kathleen

Hill,

Project Registrar; Scott

Wixon, Manager of Art Services and Preparations, Mary Ann Hoag, Lighting Designer,

Jeffrey

Clemens, Associate Preparator; Ana Luisa

Marcia

Fardella, Chief

Manager

if

its

designer, Eileen Boxer,

aspects of the exhibition.

I

Yevgenia Petrova, and

Vasilii

art:

to

Exhibition

Design,

to fruition without the talent

thanked

also to be

is

and imagi-

for her insights into various

appreciation to the authors

whose

essays enrich

Nina Gunanova, Jean-Claude Marcade, Tatiana Mikhienko,

Rakitin.

colleagues at the Tretiakov Gallery,

me

who

my deep

express

our appreciation of Malevich's

allowing

of

Graphic Designer; and Paul M. Schwartzbaum, Chief Conservator.

handsome catalogue would not have come

This

nation

Leite,

I

am

Irina

borrow generously from

further indebted to Mr. Rakitin, as well as to

my

Lebedeva, Tatiana Mikhienko, and Irma Vakhar, for their

forthcoming publication on Malevich, Malevich

o Sebe, which forms the core of the documentary materials and the accompanying commentaries published here in translation for the first time.

I

would

also like to extend

my

special

thanks to Nina N. Suetina for providing the original diaries of Kazimir Malevich, which were of great value to the authors. I

am most

Publications

grateful for the

department,

Communications and

skillful

management

Publishing.

I

would

Editorial Assistant;

Guggenheim's

especially like to thank Elizabeth Franzen,

Editor, Elizabeth Levy, Director of Publications; Tracy

Hoban,

of this catalogue by the

under the leadership of Anthony Calnek, Deputy Director

and Jennifer Knox White,

for

Managing

Hennige, Production Assistant; Stephen Editor, for their consistently

11

outstanding


work.

My

Rishik,

and Molly Stevens.

gratitude also extends to the translators,

Finally,

whose

who

must express my profound gratitude to the following

I

made

generosity with loans has

W.

include Antonina

and

individuals

this exhibition possible: Evgenii

M.

Bouis, Daniel

institutions

Ziablov, Director,

and Mikhail Cherepashenets, Deputy Director, at Rosizo for the works from Russian regional

museums

(A. N.

Museum

Regional Art

Cuno,

Radischev State Art F.

Saratov;

Museum

Suzuki, President, Shin-iche

Numabe,

Alfred Pacquement,

Philip Rylands,

Curator,

Musee

Pans; Prof. Dr. Kasper Konig, Director,

Cologne,

Director,

Hiroshima

James

Prefectural

Hiroshima; Evert Rodrigo, Director, Instittut Collectie Nederland;

of Art,

Dr.

Ivanovo);

Amsterdam; Mathias Rastorfer and Krystyna Gmurzynska,

Gmurzynska Cologne and Zug; Yutaka Tokiwa,

Museum

Museum,

A. Kovalenko, Krasnodar; Regional Art

Cultural Center Khardzhiev-Chaga,

Galerie

of Fine Arts, Ekaterinburg;

Harvard University Art Museums; Theodore Bremer, President, Foundation

Director,

Sakura;

Museum,

Director,

Kawamura Memorial Museum

of

Makato

Modern

Art,

National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou,

and

Dr.

Evelyn Weiss, Deputy Director,

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice;

Museum

Ludwig,

Private collection,

courtesy Galerie Gmurzynska Zug; Private collection, courtesy Shiraishi Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Vladimir Gusev, Director, Evgenia Petrova, Deputy Director, State Russian Petersburg;

Rodionov,

Valentin

General, State Tretiakov Gallery,

Managing

Director,

Amsterdam; Miller,

Sir

General

Moscow; Rudi

Art,

and

lovlea,

New

York; Natalia Metelitsa,

Modern

Art,

logistics of

in

world

history,

field.

MATTHEW DRUTT Chief Curator, The Menil Collection

12

van Heusden,

Museum,

some

S.

Shipley

The Museum of

Director, St. Petersburg State

Museum

of the

which has had a profound effect on the economics,

organizing international art exhibitions. They are to be

cation to our

S.

Stedelijk

London; Harvey

Theatre and Music. Their support for this project has endured through lenging times

W.

York; Glenn D. Lowry, Director,

Deputy

St.

Deputy Director

First

Fuchs, Artistic Director,

Nicolas Serota, Director, Tate Gallery of

New

Lidia

and Geurt Imanse, Curator, Painting and Sculpture,

The Judith Rothschild Foundation,

Modern

Director,

Museum,

commended

most risks,

of

chal-

and

for their dedi-


Lenders to the Exhibition A.

N Radischev

Busch-Reisinger

State Art

Museum, Saratov

Museum, Harvard

University Art

New

The Judith Rothschild Foundation,

Museums

York

Foundation Cultural Center Khardzhiev-Chaga, Amsterdam/Stedehjk Museum, Amsterdam Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum, Japan

Kawamura Memorial Museum Musee

of

Modern

Art, Sakura,

Museum

Ludwig, Cologne, Ludwig Collection

Museum

of Fine Arts, Ekaterinburg

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon Foundation,

New

Galene Gmurzynska Zug

Contemporary

Private collection, courtesy Shiraishi

Regional Art

Museum,

Regional Art

Museum

Petersburg State

State Russian

Ivanovo A. Kovalenko, Krasnodar

F.

Museum

Museum,

State Tretiakov Gallery,

St.

of Theatre

Moscow

Museum Amsterdam

Stedelijk

Museum

Amsterdam/lnstituut Collectie

Rijswijk

Tate Gallery of

& Music

Petersburg

Stedelijk

Nederland

Guggenheim

R.

York)

Private collection, courtesy

St.

Japan

National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Modern

Art,

The Museum of Modern

London

Art,

New

York

Art,

Tokyo


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BAS/C SUPREMATIST ELEMENT. PAGE DESIGN FOR

7X£ NONOSJECTIVE

WORLD (MUNICH ALBERT LANGEN

VERLAG, 1927) 1927, pencil on paper, low (26.7

x

x 8

1

/;

inches

21 6 cm)

Kupferstichkabinett. Oftentliche Kunstsammlung Basel

_E


> -I H I

m o JO c

KAZIMIR MALEVICH: Malevich

S

UPR

unquestionably the most celebrated Russian

is

generation. By the middle of the

his

and Soviet fewer than

home and

last

his colleagues,

five solo exhibitions

his

and during

artist of

Western

century, both

had acquired more of

institutions

those of any of

a

M ATI S M

E

major works than

no

his brief lifetime

were devoted

to his work, both at

abroad. With the single-mindedness of a missionary or

prophet,

1

Malevich spent nearly fifteen years of

his

career

espousing the aesthetic and moral superiority of a system of abstract art he termed Suprematism.

A complete

method theretofore recognized

departure from

Suprematism

any

pictorial

was

characterized by Malevich as "that end and beginning

in art,

sensations are uncovered, where art emerges

adopted many guises

in

the service of this

and administrator to theorist and aesthete, about

a sea

change

in

the

new all

where He such.'" 2

'as art,

from teacher

fashioned to bring

way people thought about

art

and

its

impact upon the world around them.

The

critic

Ernst Kallai,

in

his

review of Malevich's works at the

Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung (Great Berlin Art Exhibition) 1927, acknowledged ficult to

his singular

accomplishment:

imagine what further development

in

"It is

painting

beyond what has been achieved." 3 But Malevich's

in

quite dif-

is

possible

art did

17

not


">**

and influence

respect

precious few.

And

the history of art reserved for

might not have seemed so at

it

the time

— he encountered great

place

the project discussed below 6

in

Malevich's debut 10,?

in

while

in

the West

difficulty in

was

securing a

—the moment of

a clear indication of his

fc-

burgeoning

stature.

Keenly aware of their segregation from mainstream currents

&^ y-^-U

in

Modern

art,

a

committee of Russian

first

exhibition celebrating Russian achievements

in

for

Western audiences. 7 Opening

FOR THE NONOBJECTIVE

WORLD (MUNICH ALBERT (First

1927, pencil on paper, SVe

x

^0Vl inches (20.6

x

26 7 cm)

the

wake

Modernism of

El

is

to an End," 8 the Erste russische Kunstausstellung

Coming

LANGEN VERLAG. 1927)

in

major

"The Blockade of Russia

Lissitzky's declaration that THE THIRD 8ASIC SUPREMAT1ST ELEMENT. PAGE DESIGN

artists

headed by David Shterenberg organized the

Russian Art Exhibition) debuted at the Galerie Van

Diemen

in Berlin in

Stedelijk

Museum

1922 before continuing on to the

Kupferstichkabinett, Offentliche Kunstsammlung Basel

in

thousand works by always inspire such

ideological leader of the Russian Symbolist

in

representing nearly every

artists

Russian art of the early twentieth century.

group Mir

More than Art),

a

acclaim. Alexandre Benois, the

critical

tendency iskusstva (World of

Amsterdam, presenting more than

half of the exhibition

was made up

of

works by

decried his painting Black Square

more conservative

artists,

such as

Abram

Arkhipov, Benois,

(1915) as a "sermon of nothingness and destruction," 4 Boris Kustodiev,

while over a decade

later,

Alexander Ivanov, and Sergei Gerasimov;

a Constructivist critic sarcasti-

show was

but by far the most notable aspect of the cally

denounced one of

follows: "The only tion

is

his

more recent

good canvas

in

pictures as

presentation of works by

the entire Unovis exhibi-

an absolutely pure, white canvas with a very good

prime coating. Something could be done on

it."

repression, as well as the artist's

into self-doubt,

abandon

which

at the

end of

merely survive,

his art

his

own

his career led

previous concerns.

assumed

the canon of high Modernism,

MATTHEW DRUTT

a

descent

him to

More than

prominent position

commanding

Chashnik, Alexandra

Gustav

Exter,

Klutsis, Lissitzky,

such as

Naum

Liubov Popova,

Alexander Rodchenko, Olga Rozanova, and Vladimir Tatlm.

abstraction for a kind of Italianate realism only

tenuously connected to

Ilia

Ivan Kliun,

artists,

5

Malevich's art outlived such pessimism and decades of

government

Natan Altman,

Gabo,

more vanguard

the

in

a level of

For the full

first

time,

Western audiences were exposed to the

scope and breadth of the dominant poles of Russian

Modernism

— Suprematism and Constructivism —which

had been waging an ideological Russia for several years.

sented

in

And

the exhibition by only

can be positively identified

battle for

supremacy

while Malevich six pieces,

was

two

in

repre-

of which

Suprematism (Supremus no.


55; (1916,

201

)

164) and White Square on White (1918,

p.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the presence of so many works by

and around the Unovis group made

wielded great authority within Russian

make

his

case

tour through Poland and Germany to preach the gospel of his artistic research.

had taken several years

It

get under way. Already

in

works to

around Germany 9

travel

his

me

wave

that the

industrial exhibitions in the in this

area have been

RSFSR and

we must

We

their

of our painting

West

in

over

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

all

new wave

of

yet

new

exhibitions.

is

in

it

was

divided into

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.

Now

new

currents

in

Modern

two

parts,

"Einfuhrung

lectures

and

articles

variety of iterations since 1922, the

was not

that Malevich

until

formulated

was

finally

In

the

first

part,

he mapped out

.

the

primarily

on

his

own

until

to depart. By then, plans for

had devolved

a larger presentation

into projects focusing

work. Malevich traveled to Berlin

Warsaw, where he had

via

a solo exhibition at the Hotel

Polonia hosted by the Club of Polish Artists. While the

show

received an uneven reception

in

the press,' 2

Malevich's month-long stay, which he inaugurated with a spirited lecture

effect

on Suprematism, was

on the development of

end of the month, he

left

Polish

for Berlin,

to

have a

in

in

a

attempt a more straightforward synthesis

of great interest

granted leave and not

die

of his artistic principles than ever before, translated into a

1926, following several such petitions,

March 1927 that he was able

in

book became a means

there now." 11 It

art.

and "Suprematismus" ("Suprematism").

Western language. .

invited to

("Introduction to the Theory of the Additional Element

for Malevich to

.

Dessau, where they

gegenstandlose Welt (The Nonobjective

Though derived from

of the

been achieved

the area of aesthetics, which

"It

10

in

who

Malevich

Theone des additionalen Elementes der Malerei"

Painting")

works

achievements have been presented.

prepare for a

and

artistic-

of the

shown and the masters

would show what has not

West

is

and

Bauhaus

earlier. In April,

prepare a publication for the series of books being

World),

In his peti-

tion for permission to travel abroad, Malevich noted:

seems to

years

were greeted by Walter Gropius and

Entitled Die

Hannover, at the

an exhibition of

instigation of Lissitzky, to organize

visited the

many

published by the Bauhaus on

him to

1924, Malevich had been

in

invited by the Kestner Gesellschaft

his students'

for

Russia

in

Through Moholy-Nagy, Malevich was

three-month

a

had worked

and Peiper

artistic circles.

embarking on

directly,

Tadeusz Peiper, editor of the Polish journal Zwrotnica, and

found lodging with Gustav von Riesen, an engineer

in

he already

Malevich had an opportunity

Five years later, in 1927,

to

students

his

clear that

it

p.

lasting

Modernism.' 3 At the

accompanied by OND BASK (20 6

19

SUPR:

in text


and

aspects of the

sixty-six illustrations

from the

inspired the foundations of Suprematism,

painterly abstractions of natural

world that had

real

form found

in

Impressionism, works by Paul Cezanne, and Cubism to the

machine-age marvel of airplanes, blimps, ers,

and

aerial

views of cityscapes (creating a perhaps

unintended parity with Le Corbusier's

In

treatise Vers

New Architecture],

architecture [Toward a

years prior).

trains, skyscrap-

une

published four

the second part, Malevich launched into

the realm of sensation and pure feeling, offering a cata-

logue of twenty-four ideal Suprematist forms that

demonstrated the contrasting states derived from the

first

three basic Suprematist elements, the black square, the black

circle,

and the black cross

(pp. 16, 18-19),

more dynamic compositions with connotations

and from

of feeling,

,4 While not (pp. 26, 37, 40).

movement, and sound

completely devoid of the more tortuous language for

which he had become known,' 5 the publication asserted his clearest

and

it

and most cogent explanation of

served to baptize him

officially

his practice,

within the annals of

the European avant-garde.

However, the great watershed of SUPREMATISM (SUPREMUS NO 1915, (66

x

oil

on canvas, 26

x

occurred

in

May

when some

1927,

his visit to

Germany

seventy paintings,

38Ya inches

97 cm)

Stedel ijk

SO)

Museum, Amsterdam

gouaches, charts, and drawings spanning to date

were the subject

his entire career

of a special presentation at the

Greaf Berlin Art Exhibition. No other Russian

even Kandinsky,

who had been

celebrated

in

artist,

not

Germany

long before Malevich, had ever received such distin-

guished attention. Even the normally reserved Russian

Commissar

for Education, Anatoly Lunacharsky, noted,

"The

Malevich,

artist

approach to painting, surprising that

MATTHEW DRUTT

in

in

spite of the exclusivity of his

is,

of course, a great master.

a country

It

is

not

where the incomprehensible


Kandinsky could be successful, the more synthetic and

his

courageous Malevich would find favor, especially after

his

present turn toward hard and harsh painting."' 6 The exhibition

became

a defining

terms of the reception of

of

knowledge

contact with

Malevich's career

the West, not just at

"However,

it

turns out, the works

Malevich's creative work, the foundation of his

in

outside Russia, the primary source

5,

four

continue

his

opened

activity

spite of

in

all

in

the

official press:

of the wonderful aspects of artistic

work

foreign to proletarian culture. His entire

conveys the notion that he, as a bourgeois

artist,

needs

art

not for serving society but only for the sake of form." 19

work

That September, he was

institut istorii iskusstv (State

the Institute for the History of Art).

is

was denounced

April 1930,

in

which

in Kiev,

in

his exhibition closed, to

Gosudarstvennyi

his

the West. His solo exhibition

in

in

of Malevich's oeuvre for the next fifty years.

months before

which prohibited

Russia,

in

colleagues

work

his

Malevich returned to Leningrad on June

at the

climate

moment

the time, but subsequently also; as

shown would become,

precarious position within the prevailing political

He may have planned

OGPU

(United State

jailed for several

Political

months by

Agency) following

his

to

expulsion from the Institute amid accusations by return to Germany, perhaps even to settle there; he

had colleagues there that he

left his

works

in

the exhibition

in

the care of

was

practicing "formalism" (by

Hugo Hanng, that time a blanket

condemnation

for

anyone thought to

the secretary of the architectural association responsible for organizing the

Riesen, with a

show, and had entrusted

package of

concerned about

his fate

materials, Malevich

von

his host,

abroad.

and the disposition of these a will

bourgeois aesthetics), and he was interro-

20

In

his

views on art and

his activities

the transcript of this examination, Malevich

repeatedly defends his

the case of his

in

in

gated extensively about

his writings. Evidently

drew up

be indulging

work

as having

been carried out

untimely death. 17 His apprehensions were well founded;

on behalf of the

Malevich never returned to the West.

attempts on the part of the practitioners of the bourgeois

few

years, his research

and

colleagues at the Institute

art

fell

In

a matter of only a

tendency to win

out of favor with

Leningrad, culminating

in

expulsion and the dismantling of his department as the political climate shifted swiftly toward

in

in his

1930

more

have been, as thirty years of in vain.

Though

to the avant-garde's model. While his solo exhibition at

now dominated

was

well regarded by

some

Moscow

critics,

18

it

in

November 1929

showed the

first

(perhaps brought about by recent paintings earlier

in

mode

days of Cubo-Futurism. He

that returned to the

was no doubt aware

released on

of

on

based on

art,

His contentions

December

of his

life,

by Realist academicians.

which ended abruptly

were

Malevich

8,

in

In

the

last

years

1935 following a

Malevich focused increasingly upon

legacy, bracketing his abstract

political pressure), in a series of

a figurative

finally

2'

increasingly ostracized by a cultural bureaucracy

brief illness,

evidence of Malevich's disillusionment with abstraction

"There were no

over to their side, nor could there

convictions and views

work, are known."

was

in

me

my

staunchly conservative views of cultural production hostile

the State Tretiakov Gallery

ideals of the Soviet state:

his

experiments of 191 5-28

with backdated Post-Impressionist landscapes and

neo-Renaissance portraits designed to create a progression of styles and attitudes

21

in his

work.

logical 22

However,


become known

these works would not

Instead, the

Western view of Malevich's

and Suprematism century

outside Russia

decades after they were made.

until several

was

in particular,

art in general,

much

during

of the last

shaped by the works from the

primarily

Greaf Berlin Art Exhibition, thanks to Haring and the interventions of Alexander Doerner, director of the

Provinzialmuseum the

Museum

of

in

Hannover, and Alfred

Modern

Art

that these works found their

New

in

way

(Fifty-one paintings, gouaches,

York,

958; pp. 22 and

1

in

to

it

into public collections.

29) Over the next

published or exhibited

who saw

and drawings were

Museum

acquired from Haring by the Stedelijk 1

Barr, director of

alone

fifty years,

a variety of contexts,

in

they were

from books

or exhibitions devoted to Malevich to those concerning

abstract art

general,

in

secure his place

moment nized

in

in

all

of

which served to further

the history of

of this phase

art.

23

The defining

was the landmark

exhibition, orga-

conjunction with the publication of Troels

Andersen's catalogue raisonne of the 1927 Berlin show, that traveled to the

New

York

(p.

1973. 24 While

his

works were

American audiences SUPREMATISM (SELF-PORTRAIT 1915, (80

x

oil

on canvas.

3

1

'A

x

j i

k

TWO DIMENSIONS)

view at the

Museum, Amsterdam

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Museum

Guggenheim Museum

Museum

certainly not

in

in

unknown

to

paintings by Malevich had been on

of

broad survey brought a context to

his

Modern

Art since

1936

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

this

Moreover,

its

in

depth and scholarly

historical

work not seen before

in

the United States.

timely presentation corresponded with the

reductivist strategies

dominating American

art at

the time,

the works of Carl Andre, Mel Bochner, Dan Flavin,

Donald Judd, Ellsworth

and

Brice

Kelly, Sol

LeWitt, Robert Mangold,

Marden, among others.

exhibition,

MATTHEW DRUTT

R.

24Vr inches

62 cm)

S tedel

IN

Solomon

23) and the Pasadena Art

In his

review of the

Judd hailed Malevich as the pioneer of


nonobjective colors 1

9

work

is

first

more

and

and

right

there

is

in

than Mondnan's, for example, which

radical

and which ultimately

idealistic quality

has an anthropomorphic,

and low,

now

that the forms

instances of form and color ... His

has a considerable

By

now

the paintings that Malevich began painting

in

5 are the

1

obvious

art: "It's

left

if

composition of high

'abstract,'

change

Art doesn't

sequence.

in

work and controversy many times over

within the context Malevich established." 25

Following that exhibition, slowly increasing access to

artworks

in

both public and private collections

and elsewhere

in

Russia

in

the East progressively yielded a broader

*

understanding of the scope and depth of Malevich's achievements. 26 The

advantage of

this

Hulten for the

first

museum

major

exhibition to take

was Malevitch, organized by Pontus

Musee

National d'Art

Moderne

in

V

V

a

Paris in

1978. 27 Of the 234 objects assembled, only forty-six were paintings (nineteen of which

were Suprematist), and thus

the exhibition offered the most in-depth review of

and graphic

Malevich's drawings

art

KAZIMIR MAievlCH. NOVEMBER

seen to that time,

13,

with the greatest

number

of these

Russian private collections. Even

was

works coming from

more ambitious, however,

in

Petersburg (then Leningrad), the State Tretiakov Gallery

St. in

Museum

Moscow, and the

Stedelijk

Museum

in

1988, which

presented the most comprehensive survey of date, with

some 215

tures, books,

and

followed,

in

utilitarian objects,

approximately (1

in

fifty

of

91 5-30). This

1990-91, by another survey

United States; though slightly smaller far

career to

paintings, drawings, prints, sculp-

which dated from the Suprematist period

was

his

in

SOLOMON

NEW YORK

the collaborative exhibition Kazimir Malevich,

1878-1935, organized by the State Russian

1974,

the

scope and with

fewer Suprematist works, the exhibition occasioned an

23

R

16.

1973-JANUARY

GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM.


extensive scientific study of Malevich's working method,

which yielded new

And

in

1

insight into his painterly technique. 28

992, The Great Utopia: The Russian and Soviet

Avant-Garde, 1915-1932, organized by the Guggenheim

Museum,

included key works by Malevich situated within

Modern

the most encyclopedic exhibition of Russian date, underscoring Malevich's his

the

art to

dominant position among

peers and students and offering Western audiences

scope of Russian Modernism for the

full

since the First Russian Art Exhibition of

But as

much

interpretation

as these exhibitions

1

time

922. M

were

crucial to the

and evaluation of Malevich's

them benefited from the

first

art,

none

of

recent rediscovery of major

paintings and drawings as well as letters and other docu-

mentary materials long thought

lost or

destroyed or else

completely unknown, most of which belonged to the legendary historian, collector, and custodian of the Russian avant-garde Nikolai Khardzhiev. outside Russia

until a

Little

many

than a scholar; he was a trusted associate of

of the

including Velimir Khlebnikov, Aleksei Kruchenykh,

artists,

Kliun, Lissitzky, Malevich, Vladimir

When

known

decade ago, Khardzhiev was more

he succeeded

in

Mayakovsky, and

Tatlin.

emigrating to the Netherlands

in

1993, something he had been attempting for twenty years, 30 SUPREMATISM: PAINTERLY REALISM OF A FOOTBALL PLAYER iCOLOR MASSES 1915, (70

x

oil

IN THE

his collection of

some

1

,350

artworks of the Russian avant-garde and countless

letters

FOURTH DIMENSION)

on canvas, 27V?

x

17Vb inches

44 cm)

Stedelijk

he took with him

Museum, Amsterdam

and documents. 31 Within

this vast repository

were eight

major paintings and hundreds of drawings, sketches, notes,

and manuscripts by Malevich. These materials are

the raison d'etre for the current exhibition.

While the number of artworks collection

been

MATTHEW DRUTT

in

may seem

small

in

the public eye for so

in

the Khardzhiev

comparison to what has

many

years,

it

is

their


superior quality and uniqueness that

makes them so

Smoking a Pipe

Some

art.

works

of the

gaps, while others significantly of his painterly

method

Taken as a whole,

deepen our understanding

tation of Malevich's art to focus

and out

of

its

division of the

is

the

first

The other

major presen-

on Suprematism,

to the

those phases that led him both into

path. Thus

it

provides greater insight into

early

works

1

9 41

1

5,

for the decor of the Futurist

(Victory

opera Pobeda nad solnstem

Over the Sun), on which Malevich collaborated

with Kruchenykh and Mikhail Matiushm five of

the

in

1913. While

these drawings are well known, they are joined for

first

time by three additional sketches from the

Khardzhiev-Chaga Cultural Foundation (pp. 101-03).

in

The drawings are representative of

light

and

to prefigure Malevich's

Malevich's Alogic works are playful and cryptic, employing

In

more the

tional verse of poets like

sense of Victory

than

same way

that the transra-

language

possibilities in

intuitive, absurdist aesthetic that

commonly accepted reason

Over the Sun,

previous

his

Khlebnikov and Kruchenykh

attempted to open up new through an

freely

challenged

visual

form intended to

confound conventional picture making, inventing new from

relations or associations derived

a

"random"

collision

Malevich's Cubo-Futunst style, but they have also long

between seemingly unrelated images and shapes. "We

been regarded as the "unconscious"

come

starting point for

Suprematism. Each of the compositions the format of a square

element

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

later

is

framed within

the primary Suprematist

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and the profusion of planar geometric forms more

that invade the pictorial space looks forward to

dynamic, nonobjective studies done 1

68). In this regard, Malevich's

Victory Over the Sun, Act

2,

historically

work

(

1

ideas without truly resembling a finally

compares

91

in this

been held up as prefiguring

composition,

(pp. 149,

Study for the Decor of

Scene 5

as the singularly nonobjective

1915

in

3, p.

early

later

00),

1

which

group has

Suprematist

known Suprematist

nicely to

both the roughly

contemporaraneous Cubo-Futurist Composition:

all

(as in the libretto for

for instance), Malevich's Alogic

works were experiments with

Amsterdam

where the

33),

1

examples of transrational (zaum) realism repre-

Cubo-Futurist works.

drawings

a selection of eight

5, p.

sented here by three major paintings and nine drawings.

oeuvre with major works. is

91

Suprematist phase are the Alogic compositions of

abstract geometric form

of departure

(1

square into contrasting zones of

the most important phase of his career and broadens his

Our point

111) and the later Suprematism:

3, p.

dark takes three distinct but related tacks.

as well as his use of drawing.

this exhibition

relative exclusion of

chronological

in

fill

91

Square on a Diagonal Surface

fundamentally important to a reconsideration of Malevich's

(1

this

to the rejection of reason," Malevich wrote, "but

has been possible only because a different form of

reason has arisen within

us.

.

.

It

.

has

its

construction and also meaning, and only this

knowledge

will

own

our work be based on a

transrational precept."

32

Alternately

law and

the light of

in

totally

new,

compacted and open,

the Alogic works, which combine images of "real"

elements such as animals,

utensils,

ments with abstract shapes, are

how

world. Thus,

in

many a

instru-

understanding

new

visual

that, while inherently nonobjective in

ance, continued for real

critical for

Malevich would end up inventing a

language

Man

and musical

appear-

years to refer to things

work

like

in

the

Suprematism: Painterly

25


Realism of a Football Player. Color Masses

Dimension (1915,

the Fourth

in

the direct descendant of

p. 146),

Malevich's ideas about the transrational, the composition is

confusing

something that

.

i

.,,..

real;

instead,

has

it

its

own

inherent logic, one

everyday

in

life.

open

Even the "logic" of the work's

no one correct

orientation

is

direction

which to view the work. Assumptions of up,

down,

n-fl^..^. C

interpreted as attempting to represent

both self-referential and remotely tied to experi-

is

ences

if

in

to question: there

or sideways are

thrown

is

into chaos, at least they

,,,,..

were ing in

in

which a given composition resolved

and

this essay

"Letters

in

itself visually

the exhibition views illustrated

and Documents"

The exhibition of Suprematism,

finally

way (hence in

the

in

section).

unfolds into the orthodox space

opening with the basic Suprematist

forms of the square, *~:rr_

of display-

various ways, constantly redefining the

the alternate orientations of a few works reproduced

%

~.^U-

when he was fond

Malevich's lifetime,

in

works

circle,

and cross and ending with

&^*Jn*jt-

Malevich's early forays into figurative adaptations of

Suprematist principles ELONGATED SQUARE, PAGE DESIGN FOR THE NONOBJECTIVE

WORLD (MUNICH ALBERT LANGEN VERLAG, 1927, pencil on paper, (20 6

x

8'/s x

1927)

)0Vt inches

in

the late 1920s. While Malevich

painted four versions of Black Square during this exhibition

marks the

33 his career,

occasion that the original

first

26.7 cm)

Kupferstichkabmett, Off en tliche Kunstsammlung Basel

painting from 1915 significant

panied

in

in

and of

is

being

itself,

the exhibition by

primary phase, Black Cross (1915, latter

were

p.

outside Russia. This

but Black Square its

(

1

is

9

of which have never

1

5, p. 121),

5, p.

known

MATTHEW DRUTT

123), the

been shown since they

was

only through a documentary photo-

graph of Posledniaia futuristicheskaia vystavka

kartin,

10" (nul-desat): The Last Futurist Exhibition of

is

accom-

same

Black Circle

exhibited by Malevich. Elongated Plane

heretofore

"0.

also

three siblings of the

120) and Elongated Plane (191

two first

shown


Paintings: "0. 10" [Zero-Ten 1, held

and

variant form illustrated

its

And

(p. 26).

Petrograd

in

1920s versions

of which are

in their

the collection of the

in

Museum), the 1915 paintings

State Russian

and Black

Circle,

shown together many times

(all

1915,

The Nonobjective World

in

while Black Square, Black

Cross have been

in

offer a

completely different experience. They are more intimate in

and more densely painted, and they contain the

scale

scumbled surfaces, intuition that

chalky,

we

and

is

intensity of

brushwork, and aura of

completely absent

thinly

the

in

more

resolved,

rendered versions of the 1920s. Thus

have the opportunity for the

time to regard

first

Malevich's primary Suprematist objects as a group

their

in

original versions.

Two were

other Khardzhiev works from this period, which

also previously

known

photographs or references

more

only through documentary

in

correspondence, offer even

insight into Malevich's painterly

Realism of a Peasant

Red Square (1915, p

Woman 127),

which

Malevich's

comrade Matiushin,

and again

this first

work, which

in scale.

34

Pictorial

first

in this is

called

one time belonged

at

the

is

the other by only several months,

and intimate

skill.

Two Dimensions,

in

of

two

to

versions,

case might predate

more

richly

composed SUPREMATIST PAINTING BLACK RECTANGLE. BLUE TRIANGLE

The ruby red pigment of the

1915.

square form has a depth and glow that to the

flatter,

relative,

shape

on

a

later

work, which

here the red form

white rectangular

field,

is

stark contrast

in

is

square

situated slightly

placing

of paintings like Painterly Realism.

Color Masses

in

more evenly composed orange-red of

and unlike the

overall,

is

it

(66 5

in

askew

Boy with Knapsackp.

128) and

Suprematist Painting. Black Rectangle, Blue Triangle (1915,

p. 129).

However, Suprematist Composition with

27

on canvas. 26

57

Stedel'ik

its

within the context

the Fourth Dimension (1915,

oil

x

Museum. Amsterdam

>ies


Plane

Projection (191

in

painting by Malevich

Known

now

until

graph of

in

5, p.

131)

is

form, composition, and technique.

(p.

painting has a thick, enamel-like surface that teristically tight.

is

255), the

(1917,

uncharac-

in

crackled, as

in

some

variation

in

milky white ground

is

almost without

of this year or any other period. ity

enameled

of an

works

rich luster

and

depth afforded by the lapus blue pigment and the

smoothness of

lacquer-like

The

its

1915 to 1917

is

known

previously

from

its

Suprematist Composition (1915,

in

in

ings close to

date (such as Suprematist Painting: Eight

it

in

p.

1

forms

91 6,

p.

1

to

one another by the appearance of magnetic or

static order,

even

when

the forms appear to hang freely

it

that

is

entirely unique, providing a substantial

MATTHEW DRUTT

form dissolves

and lower-right

recedes from the painting to an imagi-

the other end of the spectrum

more

static

tions

in

composition

Suprematism of

is

920,

Spirit) (1

known through

drawing and graphic form but

its

until

p.

227), a

many

itera-

now unknown

dimensions of Suprematism became more

formally linked with religious painting through Malevich's

in

It

in

the

(as in

two

[1

230-31]), Suprematism of the Mind

literally

Suprematist icon, painted on a in his

is

wooden

Finally,

a

panel, entirely

oeuvre, and as compelling

scale as Dissolution of a Plane

is

versions

920-22, pp.

of Suprematism (Mystic Suprematism)

modest

way

at the top-right

Mind (Suprematism of the

tumbling black shapes, offset by a small yellow

thus expands upon Malevich's vocabulary of this period

193), a large planar

expanse of a white void, rendered even

literally

unique as such

a

p.

Suprematist

nary plane beyond.

space, Suprematist Composition offers a cacophony of circle.

belongs to

it

when compositions

sibling,

adaptation of the Orthodox cross

43] and Suprematist Painting

77]) are characterized by multicolored

40),

successfully here by virtue of the plane's disappear-

spiritual

bound

[1

(p.

as a painting. Dating from the period during which the

here

the exhibition. Whereas other paint-

but not included

Red Rectangles [1915,

more

On

form and conception:

p. 149), illustrated

more famous

in its

into the infinite

the

only through a photograph and very

contemporaries

As

Painting (1917-18,

highlighted by

another work formerly belonging to Khardzhiev, also

different

the next phase of Malevich's work,

corners;

of Suprematism, from

(pp. 165, 174, 141),

has a dramatic, almost

Suprematist repertoire through one of the

ance from the picture

white ground.

more dynamic phase

next,

in his

existence.

its

The painting has the qual-

due to both the

object,

it

resonance and states of feeling linked to ethereal form or

because of

parallel in his

by far the largest Suprematist painting

took on greater associations with magnetic and acoustic

in

the ingredients of the pigment, for

is

drawings for The Nonobjective World

the extreme case of the 191 5 Black Square.

Projection, however, remains intact, perhaps

p. 191),

by Malevich, and, as such,

24 forms

these early years, so the compositions are often

The surface of Suprematist Composition with Plane

work only

168).

(p.

imposing presence. Previously identified as one of the key

appears that Malevich often painted

It

in his

Yet another rediscovered work, Dissolution of a Plane

over the surface of works before they had completely dried

through minor drawings

only through a documentary photo-

from Malevich's 1920 exhibition

it

example of formal ideas previously known

unlike any other

in its

in its

enormity.

a recently restored architekton, Suprematist

Architectural

Model (1927,

p.

209),

is

reintroduced into


the

now

Malevich

sparse inventory of architectural forms created by in

the early to mid-1920s.

discussed at length

in

Its

significance

Vasilii Rakitin's

and Nina Gounanova's

compellingly clear

is

Tatiana Mikhienko's essay. Along

Russia. 3

''

However,

in

also stopping at the threshold of the

1920s and

model presents a very cogent

articulation of

human

figure.

phase

the late

in

1930s when Malevich returned to the

The few works included here from that

how

Malevich's application of Suprematist principles into the

phase (pp. 130, 232, 233) demonstrate

realm of the practical.

tions of the Suprematist figure are inseparable

The exhibition

from new information

also benefits

about the dating of works, something that

complex

oeuvre due as

in his

much

intentionally misdating pieces as to

evidence. (Malevich

insisted, for

to his

1915.) Here again, in

we

the end of his

life.

The works that followed upon these

letters

and

truncated, chapter

in

Malevich's art that,

very different story than the

one

the Khardzhiev archive, as well as from the

recent publication of Andrei Nakov's

first

this publication reflects certain it

is

not absolute

volume of the in

assumptions about

in this

works

regard: certain

have been grouped together as much according to formal relationships as to their dates.

At the beginning of this project

this essay,

it

was suggested

that

seeks a more in-depth look at Malevich's

Suprematism than has previously been undertaken. This has been afforded by a greater concentration of

Suprematist paintings and drawings than

mous

exhibitions of Malevich's work.

his

in earlier

posthu-

As one of the

project's premises,

we

important work of

his students,

much

more comprehensive undertaking

larger,

Indeed, his

if

not

work

rated from his

decided not to include the very

which would make for

a

as a teacher cannot be absolutely sepa-

work

as an

artist,

toward

took an entirely different tack, beginning a new, albeit

1913 rather than

have benefited from the

from

abstract form by

mystical connotations that he brought to his art

habit of

any previously missing

in

in

his first itera-

Malevich, and thus are representative of the increasingly

extremely

catalogue raisonne. But while the sequence of works

chronology,

certain formulations of the Crucifixion

example, that Black

Square and other works were created

documents

is

own

in

chose here to be more orthodox,

structed architektons and a small selection of utilitarian objects, the

and made

a recent exhibition presented

we

with several other partially original and partially recon-

early

essays,

something suggested

in

29

in

told here.

the end,

is

a


.

Lanonov, and Ivan Puni, whose

Notes 1

Of course, while

his

widely collected by Russian his lifetime, their in

museums

in

subsequent repression

the 1930s kept them hidden from the

solo exhibitions of Malevich's

during his lifetime were

already a subject of

1983)

remarks (cited

heard the

made an attempt

I

to read the

grandiloquent and obscure theoretical

works by the leader of the Suprematists.'

9 See the .

"I

also taken aback by his

letter

from the Kestner

seems

In

a confused manner, he

somehow

to try to

goals

link his

Dimitrovka

Salles B

(formerly Salon K

discus-

the Documents section

in

of this publication):

writings

Malevica Ego put' ot impressionizma k

suprematizu

some

Consider Anatole Lunacharsky's

sion

(March-April 1922), unpaginated

5

K.

15 His reputation as a convoluted writer

was

Germans were

Art.

8 Veshch/Gegestand/Ob/et. no 1-2

gos

Vystavka PersonaTnaja vystavka

had

five

work held

76-a;a

(London Annely Juda Fine

cat

The

public eye until the late 1980s.

art

shown in gallery exhibitions in France and Germany See The First Russian Show: A Commemoration of the Van Deimen Exhibition Berlin 1922, exh already been

works were

Mikhailova),

Moscow,

opened March 25, 1920, Wystawa

Gesellschaft, Hannover, to Malevich,

and path with the Revolution and with

December

God." See also Jean-Claude Marcade's

30, 1924,

the Documents

in

section of this publication.

essay

publication

in this

Kazimiera Malewica, Club of Polish Hotel Polonia, Warsaw,

Artists,

March

1

Malevich could be referring here to

20-25, 1927; Sonderausstellung

the large presentation of Russian art at

Malewitsch, part of Grosse Berliner

the Exposition international des arts

Kunstausstellung, Lehrter Bahnhof,

decoratifs et mdustnels

Berlin,

May 7-September

Malevicha,

Decorative and Industrial Arts), Grand

Vystavka proizvednii K.

S.

Moscow, opened

The circumstances of

of his

works

"Malevich

November

1929; and Personalnaia

1,

1 1

left

the Stedelijk

in

Glavnauka requesting permission to

December

2.

Kazimir Malevich, "Suprematism"

(before 1927), K. S.

Troels Andersen,

in

Malevich: The

ed

,

tion.

pp. 44-54,

reviews

the

in

(Los Angeles:

Documents

Kunstblatt, no

7 (1927).

review

full

Malevich

in

the Club

Documents

18. See, for

March

of this publication: A. Fiodorov-Davydov,

30, 1927)

and Jan

Klescinski, article

and Form Essays on the

Development of

Polish Art"

Warsaw,

S

1928-1929, Maliarnoie

L'art vivant

Musee

National d'Art Moderne,

19.

I.

V.

(No. 2,

in

S.

the Documents section of

this publication.

183 Centre Georges Pompidou, 1983)

See, for example, the following text

The

full

transcript of his examination

in

drawings for

14.

The

this

book, some of which are reproduced

the Documents section of this publication: Letter

Deb

See the commentary by

Yefimovich

20. 6.

And

Problema tsveta vzhivopisi

1931).

13 See Presences Polonais:

(Pans: p.

the Documents section

speech

section of this publication

3(1923),

in

the

lutkevich, "Sukharnaia stolitsa,"

LEF, no.

example, the following

"Iskusstvo K.S. Malevicha." Kliun,

autour du Musee de Lodz, exh cat 5

Armand Hammer Museum

Cultural Center, 1990),

commentaries

ca. 1931).. in

"Berlin 1927," in

Suprematism, Kuner Poranny (No 89,

"Idea

See Alexandre Benois, "The Last

Futurist Exhibition," transcript of

and

1988),

of Polish Artists and the Theory of

Suprematism (excerpt from the

publication.

1916,

and pp 22-27

of Art

the Documents section of this

1,

Museum,

section of this

Konrad Vmkler, The

Exhibition of Prof

"Kazimir Malevich,"

on January

and

example, the following

1978), p. 146

delivered

Stedelijk

Kazimir Malevich 1878-1935, exh cat

3. Ernst Kallai,

4.

in

Museum,

State Tretiakov Gallery;

Amsterdam:

publication

The

Moscow:

the Documents section of this publica-

12. See, for

1913-1933 (Borgen Copenhagen,

in

(Leningrad: State Russian in

Artist, Infinity,

Suprematism, Unpublished Writings

appears

1925,

9,

Museum,"

Kazimir Malevich, 1878-1935, exh. cat

See the petition from Malevich to

travel abroad, ca.

departure

his

there are well docu-

vystavka Malevicha, Kiev Picture Gallery, ca April-June 1930.

the

mented. See, for instance, Joop Joosten,

1925

Palais, Paris,

in

section of this publication.

from Germany and the eventual dispersal

Modern

(International Exhibition of

See the review by Lunacharsky

Documents 17.

modernes

30, 1927,

State Tretiakov Gallery,

16.

full

set of original

is

published for the

volume

(see the

first

time

Documents

in this

section).

from Malevich to David here, are in the collection of the

Shterenberg, February 16. 1921, Vitebsk. Kupferstichkabinett of the 7.

was by no means

Russian art

complete mystery to the West, but

was the

first

show

developments

in

to focus

Russia as

the work of emigre

this

more on

They contain

Malevich

in

Kunstmuseum

inscriptions by

Russian and

German

ing to the significance of

pertain-

each form, and

opposed to

many

also carry the spurious date of

such as

1913,

this

has contributed over the years

Alexander Archipenko, Lev Bakst,

to confusion

Alexandre Benois, Marc Chagall, Natalia

Suprematist work.

Goncharova,

MATTHEW DRUTT

artists

Basel

a

Vasily Kandinsky, Mikhail

in

dating Malevich's

first

21

Ibid.

22 For an excellent summary and evaluation of this in

work and Malevich's dates

general, see Elena Bassner, "Malevich's

the Collection of the Russian

Paintings

in

Museum

(The Matter of the

Creative Evolution)," in

the Russian

in

Museum

Artist's

Kazimir Malevich (St.

Petersburg

Palace Editions, 2000), pp. 15-27.


example, Louis Lozowick,

23 See.

for

Modem

Russian Art

(New York Museum of Modern Art, Societe Anonyme, Inc 925), Cubism and Abstract Art. exh cat (New York: Museum of Modern Art. 1936), Fantastic Art. Dada. and Surrealism, exh cat (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1936), Konstruktivisten

Vienna, either to collect the

Musee

the sale of the works or to arrange for

National d'Art Moderne. Centre

Georges Pompidou, 1978)

unsuccessful

exh cat (Basel

28 See Milda Viktunna and

Lukanova. "A Study of Technique: Ten

Kunsthalle. 1937), The Collection of the

Anonyme, exh

(New Haven:

cat.

Yale University Art Gallery, published for

the Associates

Fine Arts, 1950);

in

d'Art

and Cultural Center, 1990). pp 187-97. The exhibition also traveled to

the National Gallery of Art. Washington

and the Metropolitan Museum

Musee

The Los Angeles County Museum of

Russian avant-garde

Moderne.

Paris, in

1978

1980, but

in

who was

in

February 2001 to ascertain

was

it

pictures,

which are allegedly

Art,

1863-1922 (London: Thames and Hudson, 1962); and Art

in

Revolution:

and Design since 1917. exh (London: Hayward Gallery, 1971).

Soviet Art cat

24 See the accompanying publication, Troels Andersen, Malevich:

Catalogue

its

exhibition, and. characterisits

subject matter, contains

dence and documents related

to this

1910-1 930:

New Perspectives MIT

30 Khardzhiev

Press,

originally

emigrate to Sweden

With the assistance of

intended to

his friend

Roman Jakobson,

including the Collection in the Stedelijk

brated linguist

Museum, Amsterdam (Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1970).

emigrated to the United States

who

the decade, he

and

the cele-

in

earlier in

contact with

Bengt Jangfeldt, a former Jakobson

Donald Judd, "Malevich: student

in

America, vol 62, no. 2 (March-April

pp 52-58; reprinted in Donald Judd: Complete Writings 1959-1975

was

living in

Stockholm, The plan

for Jangfeldt to set

house

up a publishing

for Russian literature. Gileia, as a

1974),

(New

York:

New

to

be said on

currently

more

country, using

this subject,

working on an

specifically

I

am

is

much more

money from

and

am

I

article

many

particular

Gmurzynska Hutton,

in

Inc., in

now

divided

Foundation

in

Cultural

Amsterdam and RGAU

(the Russian State Archive of Literature

and

Art) in

Moscow. See John

and Mark Konecny.

eds.,

A

E.

Bowlt

Legacy

Regained: Nikolai Khardzhiev and the Russian Avant-Garde

(St

Petersburg

Palace Editions. 2002, which includes an excellent selection

and

translation of

he was to send from Russia to Sweden.

placing this

new

information

in

context

32. Malevich, letter to Mikhail Matiushin,

June 1913, cited

in

Evgenn Kovtun,

Malevich were sent to Jangfeldt the 1960s

"Kazimir Malevich: His Creative Path,"

Suprematism with Micro-crossing

on the

Elements (79

x

70 5 cm); Whife on

Khardzhiev's bid for emigration failed at that time, the paintings

returned to him

in

in

bringing art

Moscow

State Tretiakov Gallery;

Amsterdam

Black Cross (79 x 79 cm) While

New

made ensuing museum

Museum, and Museum, 1988).

(Leningrad State Russian x

Black/White Square (79 x 79 cm), and

Cologne, and Leonard York beginning

in

Kazimir Malevich, 1878-1935. exh cat

79 cm). Elongated

topic

importance here are the

the 1970s Their efforts

out of Russia

manuscripts, and artworks from Russia,

and the holdings are

dated August 28, 1977, four works by art in

London, Galerie

in

his

documents,

According to a piece of correspondence

exhibitions organized by Annely

Juda Fine Art

the sale of

dealing

Square/Ochre (79

26 Of

Khardzhiev was unable to export

31

entire collection of books,

documentary materials as well as essays

grateful to Rudi Fuchs

for his suggestions

century"

artworks belonging to Khardzhiev, which

with the question of

Malevich and American

and 1970s.

cover for getting Khardzhiev out of the

York University Press,

1975). pp. 21 1-15 There

condemned

between the Khardzhiev-Chaga

successfully

was put

of his letters to

the episode as "the theft of the

1980)

the late 1970s

in

In

Jangfeldt for deceiving him, referring to

in Russia,

colleague

Independent Form, Color, Surface." Art

some

Mets, 1999)

(Cambridge, Mass

collec-

(Amsterdam Uitgevenj Jan

Jakobson, Khardzhiev

The Avant-garde

2000)

episode, see Hella Rottenberg. Meesters,

Stephanie Barron and Maurice Tuchman,

Raisonne of the Berlin Exhibition, 1927,

25.

is

In

in

the collec-

Museum.

St

Malevich's Circle

p

Stedelijk

1

920s- 1 950s, exh cat

Petersburg State Russian

Stockholm. However, they declined to

occasionally erroneous information See

,

Russia,

discuss the matter further For correspon-

of scholarship from this period,

eds

Petersburg

Confederates, Students, Followers in

in

tie-ChardZjiev

Gallery, 1962). Camilla Gray,

35 See

the

in

marodeurs De lotgevallen van de

The Great Experiment Russian

also

Petersburg

scope of

Grosvenor

is

visited

I

catalogue, while noteworthy for the

Russian Art,

is

the State Hermitage

tion of the State Russian

chief prosecutor at the time

Decades of Experiment

in

St

34 The second painting

Stenholm, whose wife was Stockholm's

tic

(London.

in

is

Museum,

assisted by legal counsel Tor

possession of a private collector

comprehensive than the

Guggenheim

the

the Tretiakov. and the fourth, from the

1930s,

via

Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, 1959), Two

cat.

in

the whereabouts of the other three

1878-1935. exh cat (London

1902-1922. exh.

Moscow, the second, from ca 1923. in the State Russian Museum, St Petersburg, the third, from 1929.

in

National

Swedish dealer William Aronowitsch,

Stenholm

Art organized a broad survey of the

(Rome Gallena

in

of Art,

29.

Malevic. exh cat

is

York

Brauschweig. 1958), Kasimir Malevich.

less

from 1915,

with Aronowitsch, Jakobson, and

(Braunschweig Kunstverein

Gallery, 1959): Casimir

121) eventually ended up

(1915. p

1878-1935

Armand Hammer Museum

,

Whitechapel Art

version,

the Tretiakov

in

Gallery," in Kazimir Malevich

(Los Angeles

New

Kasimir Malewitsch, exh cat.

either regard Black Cross

the collection of the Paintings by Malevich

first

Alia

of Art

Societe

in

33 The

collection of the State Tretiakov Gallery.

him She was apparently

their return to

1

IConstructivists).

money from

27 See Malevitch. exh cat (Pans

154

were never same piece of correspondence, Khardzhiev gave power In this

of attorney to a Dr Rosemaire Ziegler of

projects possible

31

(St

Museum,


PAGE FROM KAZIMIR MALEVICH. 5UPH6MATISM 34 DRAWINGS (VITEBSK

UNOVIS, 1920)


>

> c o m > 30

n

MALEVICH, PAINTING, AND WRITING: ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF A S U P R E M ATI ST PHILOSOPHY In

a

passage from

his

m-

famous lithographed pamphlet Suprematizm:

34 risunka (Suprematism: 34 Drawings, dated December 1920, and written and published

founder of the most toric

radical abstraction to

pictorial

and writing

5,

Kazimir Malevich,

emerge from the

his-

sets forth the relationship

I

painted

pamphlet on the 'pure

a

1

and philosophical and/or theoretical

practice

"The white square that

writing:

made

possible analyzing

2

The black square

act.'

economy that introduced as the fifth measure in The question of economy became the main vantage point

defined the art.

Vitebsk),

European avant-garde of 1910-20,

between

it

in

1

from which (which result,

is it

I

I

examine

all

the creations of the world of things

my main work) no

seems as

longer with a brush, but a pen. As a

not possible to obtain with the brush what

if it is

can be obtained with the pen. The brush obtain nothing sharper." At the

in

insofar as

is

space of the

tattered,

and can

the twists and turns of the mind; the pen

end of

retreated into the

is

this short text,

domain

possible,

human

I

states:

of thought, which

will

skull."

he

set forth

what

I

is

"I

new

espy

in

is

myself have to me,

and

the infinite

3

33


who was

The painter Anna Leporskaia,

COMMENTARY

FIRST

very close to

Malevich gives a chronological and logical order to theory

Malevich from the

and

sized the spontaneous, instinctive, even unexpected

work.

practice, with theory following after the created

Of course, the

artist

is

is

Suprematist

in

For

art.

sionism. Rather,

is

it

painting

in

motion by philosophical thought," 4

stages, a

Suprematism has

movement

"In

or,

of cognition through color,"

5

an act that

a single act,

in

u-

set

come

He

exactly constituted the black square.

was such an important event whole week

empha-

1935,

in

(so

what

realized that this

in his artistic

career that for a

he himself related) he could neither drink

nor eat nor sleep." 7

SECOND COMMENTARY With regard to the "brush" and the "pen," Malevich us that the former

is

"tattered,

"sharper."

he ventures into the "domain of thought" and

tells

and can obtain nothing

the twists and turns of the mind" and that the latter

clearly reveals the

world as the objectless (mir kak bespredmetnost).

When

death

its

movement,

he means that

the pictorial and the philosophical (the noetic)

together

is

one of

a purely philosophical

ill

When

philosophical action.

Malevich writes, "This hard, cold, humorless system in

in

it

his

that the painter "did not know, did not understand

that, Suprematist painting

all

not philosophical painting, for this would situate

1920s to

character of the emergence of Black Square. She reports

constantly thinking while creating:

the act of thinking and the act of making are inextricably linked

late

in

is

saying that the pen, which writes and tran-

In

scribes thought,

goes to the innermost depths of the

begins to write, Malevich disassociates these two indivisible

world's authenticity, the painter

stages of creative work; he looks into the act of the

brush and the pen search for the same thing: the authentic

creative mind, into the noetic act that coincides with the

living

The painter of the 1915 Black

intuitive act of creation.

Square

is

clear

on the

The Suprematist stage

new

three stages occurred within

its

me

circumstance showed

prism,

distinguished by the absence of color

one of

color

in

accor-

dance with the forms of the three squares. This was accomplished intuitively

meaning, on which lished

...

without regard for the reason of their

[stikhiino],

my

I

am

Suprematist

attempting to shed line

objectless world, a nonfigurative

and the

light today.

line of life in

I

cal, if

not

other

in

found

I

their similarity to a

of color. Three stages black,

were elucidated

and white, which made

and to elucidate the future white period

in

in

it

in

They have

art,

pen

identi-

Because they complement each

art are, in

same

thing

"we'll talk

estab-

it

different

just as

we

in

a

say

through."

For Malevich, therefore, writing his

in

the best and special cases,

state of dialogue, colloquium, explanation

general as

possible for

Suprematism:

me

the white square,

JEAN-CLAUDE MARCADE

thing.

own

creation.

Two

is

necessary to under-

aspects coexist

in his

graph on the movement writings: the

in

terms of a of

development of

a

thought on being, on what

color,

to build a graph

the construction of the world

Suprematism. 6

similar, sites.

their search, saying the

ways, writing and

standing energy, and

God. Writing and

that

and two stages

— black and white —

also implying that the

world, the rhythms of universal excitement, the

and brush therefore say the same

subject:

as a

is

new

objectless

is,

an ontology; and an explanation, according to

ontology, of Suprematism as the

outcome

this

of a pictorial

process that began with Paul Cezanne. Malevich's texts

thus present us with both an original philosophy

several


theorists, in particular the

Martineau,

8

French philosopher

have been able to place

Western philosophy

it

Emmanuel

within the history of

— and an account of the

different

stages and meaning of Suprematism

The case of Malevich

is

unique

in

the history of art

because he was both a great painter and a great

Many have

thinker.

painters from Leonardo da Vinci to Vasily Kandinsky

philosophical thoughts, but Malevich created

left their

•(*«!»

c ».

an ontological system, a reflection on beings (das Seiende), referred to

writings as

in his

"phenomena"

yrax* ImaCi

(iavlenie),

"circumstances" (obstoiatelstva), "distinctions" "differences"

(razlichiia),

and "being"

A- T

-'-»

Bti

(otlichiia),

(bytie).

M MUJKMMM (MMnnrrrTi-

T^ n« •©MlnXWAVW t+Ss*t «0*tl*« «.L*OLM *CM*0fMC.*O» If^i^XrK IV! *Onr«ALTB» »0*M ClWHf LA-VO* <-3f*AVAI TfAA ~

ft

"Professional philosophers" have always been suspi.

who

cious of painters

write.

A

great mind

TgfO^lfc.. t^.-ttort* to

-^^*.* „-3T*f< -« •

ft MA>T

who

-

->,/"

.

-

~

displayed OAK* J

i

skepticism

this

Gilson,

who

was the

philosopher-medievalist Etienne

wjwrcn h cttcm^moi

fvi«

. cjko^t

Being a painter doesn't prevent the

artist

from also being a

writer,

but he won't be able to practice both at the same time. Real painters are well

..

,..

.^~ '-

—-

- -s-

—,'v—

c-

-rt.—

...

K)*»*AThT*CA

• r(*0«*iAO*<*

SrSSft," SSftf

when

(VITEBSK. 1919)

he retreated into the "domain of thought" between 1920

comments appear

to substantiate

cisms leveled at Martineau and myself

we had

forgotten Malevich

took the plunge into

men have

other

that

essence,

in

is,

in

art,

some

was

his writings.

they write or talk about their

difficulty as

in

example worst

—a

painter

are

that

when

a painter

painters have as

much

expressing themselves on a subject

foreign to language. They have the great

the best cases

cases

criti-

ago

years

Gilson also writes:

advantage of knowing what they are trying to even

-<*

CM.MA

MMlAl.rMdAnA

ass s pSS"

Tk.nwAAXjU"*

SPREAD FROM KAZIMIR MALEVICH. ON

Gilson's

•*

ooctfcre^r* #ci*a*ta ^aiaa - kat^»

«-

aware that they must choose between painting,

Given that Malevich stopped painting almost entirely

When

if*^

i«i»mi«

.

writing, or speaking. 5

claimed

wc-fv -40av .

writes: r»0

we

rcTA«0»**n»

>tf

rwnnMA mwoMer

and 1924,

Ta* i««

-

— Constable,

who

those

writes

in

is

which,

talk about, but

Delacroix, or Fromentin, for a writer,

instead

not a painter The of

speaking

about

35

NtW SrSffMS

IN

ART


experience, the painter begins to philosophize. Most often, he

futuristicheskaia vystavka kartin, "0. 10" (nul-desat) (The

then only echoes philosophical notions that have become banal,

Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings, "0. 10" [Zero-Ten])

and

in this

framework, he endeavors to uphold

rather than

rience

his

personal expe-

in

Petrograd at the end of 1915 (along with pamphlets by

them to

redefine these notions to adapt

Ivan Puni, Ksenia Boguslavskaia, Mikhail

Menkov, and

Ivan

himself. 10

worth the paper

Kliun) as "not

Yet Malevich proves Gilson's statement wrong. Martineau, a Gilson student

and

art"

in spirit,

where Gilson

relationship

takes up the question of "writing

left off.

He

raises the

problem of the

between Malevich's ontology and phenome-

it's

[bumazhonka]." He likened these

the devils of Gergesenes from the Gospel

Matthew (Matthew 8:28-34), and suggested

that, like

them, they "go away into a herd of swine and

"Malevich's philosophy"; he says, "Malevich and philoso-

were voiced

in

phy," denoting the dialogue that the writing painter has

uted

with an entire tradition of philosophy from

champion of

which he found

the "twists and turns of the mind,"

in

in

in

Vitebsk. Boris Arvatov, a

Malevich's treatise, calling

Martineau, who,

someone who imagines

Malevich's writings (since only a portion of

them had been

unique property

borne

in

first

equal to painting

of the

latter,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; even

and painting

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; has the

time since painters have

a relationship to literature, writing

strictly

is

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; writing

which, for the

is

of equal importance,

to the extent that the

autonomy

denounced the

Down,

distrib-

critic

it

"some

and language

kind of pathological

madness [vyrozhdentsa], by

himself a prophet." 13 The Marxist

who had

those

Tatlin's counter-reliefs in

1915,

filosofiia

Absoliuta}" that had

come

from the "grossly muddled pamphlet [vesma sumbur-

naia knizhechka]

We

without having to be naturally called into question,

essentially questionable."

attacks

"fruitionless philosophy of the Absolute

[nedogovorennaia forth

Cast

same

Communist

who was among

Sergei Isakov,

defended Vladimir

translated from Russian by this time), asserts:

The complete work of Malevich

critic

n The

Productivist Art, reviled the abstruse

ventriloquy and degenerate

1977, only had access to a part of the

"

God Is Not

response to

without any philosophy training to prepare him. in

in

particular, to

disappear into the depths of the sea!

origins,

Malevich

according to

nology. Martineau does not say "Malevich-philosopher" or

its

on

written artists,

could

list

God Is Not

Cast

Down.

" ,4

further examples that simply note the

nonnormative character of Malevich's language. Some are indignant about his texts and reject them as nothing more

IS

than strings of meaningless sentences. Translations often

MALEVICH A BAD WRITER?

To most of Malevich's contemporaries, the language

Bog ne

Down:

skinut: Iskusstvo, Tserkov, Fabrika Art,

Church, Factory, 1922)

muddled, barely or end. Indeed,

leader of the

years

earlier,

Is

Not Cast

may have seemed

intelligible, incorrect,

some

(God

without beginning

Alexandre Benois, the

World of Art movement, had dismissed

the pamphlet distributed by Malevich at Posledniaia

JEAN-CLAUDE MARCADE

in

tone

down

his writing, "fix it," or "straighten

a result, Malevich

is

not particularly accessible.

up on close study of the

texts

and stop

at

out." 15 As

Many

give

an impression of

chaos and muddle; they refuse to admit value ical

it

in

philosoph-

Suprematism and focus only on Malevich's undeniable

genius as a painter. Others called astructural

make do with

revealing the so-

and contradictory character of the


author's thought

bespredmetnost

in,

Hi

Suprematizm: Mir kak

for example,

Holderlm to Heidegger

vechnyi pokoi {Suprematism: The World

of those

as the Objectless or Eternal Rest, early 1920s).

"What

a

shame

it

is

that

wrote to the wife of the Gershenzon. 16 is

the

man

In fact,

of letters

I

am

not a writer," Malevich

and thinker Mikhail

literary critic

was

the kind of writer he

whose

profession

it

is

referring to

to write.

and

yet,

when we

and that

read this very

his

syntax

we

letter,

is

makes us

21

afire,

are impas-

set themselves

stands Malevich:

"Excitement

objectless]

[i.e.,

the

spirit

is

a cosmic flame

on that which

that lives

difficult;

is

objectless." 22 Elsewhere

discover the

author's narrative talent, his powerful images This

who

sioned,

on the path

Trakl),

who

of the sensation of being

is

It

true that Malevich's style often includes anacoluthon (syntactical inconsistency)

(through

and humor.

Malevich writes:

think that his confession of not being a Excitement, like molten copper

writer

is

The

a case of paralepsis.

Khardzhiev reports that

literary critic Nikolai

in

a blast furnace, seethes in a state

that

SUPREMATIST GROUP WHITE) SENSATION OF

purely objectless. Excite-

is

DISSOLUTION (NONEXISTENCE!. PAGE DESIGN FOR

Malevich told him:

don't

"I

what has already been

like

written.

write something else. But

redoing and repeating It

me

bores

write poorly.

I

to death!

ment-combustion

the supreme

into motion. Excite-ment

of Malevich's closest students,

German, thought that

into

wrong way round." And

was appreciated by few. Even one

style"

El Lissitzky,

who

"grammar

his

translated his articles

being

living

thought. He wrote

a very Nietzschean

In

This "remarkable quality of being able to capture the

thought"

is

A human

whereas thought

1923

passage from an unpublished

essay, Malevich writes:

Etna;

I

spent our childhood and youth at the summit of

smoke.

We

we

Mount

were

only spoke to the devils that appeared mystics then, but the devils always

in Etna's

tempted

Malevich's writing. Like a poet's writing, stirred

enlivened by the painter,

that

it

is

both "pure"

by the "tempest of rhythm." 19

same impetuous movements

whose "mind burns" and

come from

in

whom

It

is

of the

materialist.

that

blaze "rays

is

is

true that

I

was

a bit

praised factory chimneys

image

in

Malevich's thought.

On

the

just as

slow to understand, but

and wrote

a manifesto

and everything produced

inside

factories.''1

the colors of nature." 20

a frequent

"historial"

It

Marinetti, well, he took this idea to heart

It is

Fire

us

the fundamental quality of with materialist science and proved that art had to be

and "naked,"

is

8

Marinetti and

living

the goal of meaning.

excitements

of

[was] completely the

with extraordinary speed and practically without making changes.

process of

volcano

concerned with perfections. 23

yet Malevich had the remarkable quality

of being able to capture the process of

a

like

is

Sasel

flick-

human being without

ers within a

"heavy

1927, pencil on paper. 8

like

is

the flame of a volcano that

his

WORLD (MUNICH ALBERT LANGEN

VERLAG. 1927)

Kupferstichkabineu, Offe

Khardzhiev comments: The energy of

THE NONOBJECTIVE

white force that sets thought I

never learn." 17

I'll

is

interesting to note that the

named

founder of Suprematism

Pablo Picasso and Filippo

Tommaso

path beautifully traced by Jacques Derrida from

37

Marinetti as


two

the

pillars,

the

twentieth century. Malevich's style

two

25

"prisms," of the

art of the

(1

The influence of Marinetti on

and expression

of both have the

new

same

is

tone, turns of phrase, and lexicon.

sometimes lampoonish habits,

ristic

command, In

satirical

manner, and

a slogan.

apho-

his

each clause rapping out the discourse

like a

26

Malevich's work, Marinetti's influence

was combined

with the influence of Russian "beyondsense" (zaum) poetthat of Velimir Khlebnikov

ics,

particular,

There

is

with both of

Malevich was very close.

also a specific linguistic substratum

con, even similar thought,

was

in

seem

end with

to

good cleansing

a

Tertium

Organum, which contains

extracts

from philosophical

gave Malevich access to

texts

extended beyond the fills

ideas: antiacademicism;

level

of style

and form, to the

common

in

the

of which

with Suprematist thought.

I

have

also discussed elsewhere the importance of Malevich's

who

encouraged him to

and the impact that Gershenzon's book Troistvennyi

obraz sovershenstva {The

had on

his thinking.

to reveal

intuition that

28

But

it is

integrated into an entirely

new

We

clear that

philosophy,

is

one informed

in

all

33

Triple

Image of Perfection 1918) ,

Nevertheless, as Martineau has justly

these various influences, whether

Malevich, by contrast, the secret

question of being."

goes against reason;

by an ontological perspective. 29

in

work

reli-

of the

34

could discuss the Nietzschean thought and rhetoric

Suprematism: The World as the Objectless or Eternal

Rest.

The word "Suprematism"

itself

is

we

also find shades of Zarathustra

for

example:

Nietzschean, and

when

Malevich writes,

have discussed the importance for The ascent to the peaks of objectless

Malevich's intellectual development of the various vague

and

all

gious, political, cosmogonal, or other, only allow us "better

partially;

that Malevich borrows, consciously or unconsciously,

I

texts,

antihedonism; antihumanism; the

"geometric and mechanical splendor."

Elsewhere

Clement

underscored,

importance of white (which Marinetti had inherited from

all

of

the painter's prose, to the realm of

study of war; the question of economy,

Stephane Mallarme);

number

from around the world,

have points

write,

very inspiration that

a great

stomach" 3 ').

of Alexandria, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, Jacob

used to embellish a hyperbolic and baroque aesthetic.

Down

of the

Boehme, Kant, and Hindu and Chinese

Not Cast

particular

in

Eleatics, Plato, Plotinus,

dialogue with Gershenzon, 32

Is

lexi-

which, he wrote, "always

India,

27

in his literary

on the author of God

find a similar

about studies of the "new man,"

ironical

those that revolved around

work: Polish and especially Ukrainian expressions are often

Marinetti's influence

We

Malevich's texts (though he

in

and Aleksei Kruchenykh

whom

by the theosophist Petr Ouspensky, which was read

1)

by the entire Russian avant-garde.

undeniable. The writings

Malevich adopted Marinetti's Futurist exclamatory rhetoric, his

91

diffuse ideas that

formed the

twentieth century before World

Zeitgeist of the early

War

I:

religious socialism,

the God-seekers and the God-builders, the empirical

criti-

And

yet

art

is

arduous, painful.

brings happiness. The familiar retreats

little

by

little.

.

.

.

.

.

.

The contours of the world of objects fade more with every

moment; and the same thing continues notions

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; everything

cism of Richard Avenarius and Ernst Mach. 30 Special

becomes

mention must, however, be made of Tertium Organum

We

JEAN-CLAUDE MARCADE

it

that

we

loved and

in

the world of figurative

all

from which

we

lived,

invisible. 35

could

cite

many

other references, too, but, as the late


Czech

art historian Jin Padrta

emphasized, Malevich was

able to transform

all

knowledge

this

less

world, which

One

thing

is

into the wild flame of his vision of the object-

expressed

is

for certain: in

in

the glow of

no way does

original compilation of several

his

nonf igurative

simply involve a

it

borrowed systems, nor

is

art.

fairly

an

it

impressive account of a body of knowledge, of the kind that occa-

emerged between Antiquity and the Enlightenment, and

sionally

certainly

it

not a simple replication of something, whether

is

want to consider

faithful or

it

whether we allow

untamed thought!)

a meticulously thought-out construct that

is

distortion of genius (anything goes with

there

is,

after

all,

we

for so-called

simultaneously being constantly shaken, a "Tower of Babel" rising to the objectless,

THE RECEPTION

and the author himself

followed

lifetime,

some

texts published in Russian during his

1927 and 1962 by German translations

in

of the previously unpublished manuscripts,

presented Western readers ciently

in

fragments, but

a philosophy of the objectless. 37 Even

philosophy

partially

movements "Nothing"), First

at stake. 36

AND CHALLENGE OF SUPREMATIST THOUGHT

Those of Malevich's

of

is

(let it

us

still

suffi-

this

if

converged with existing philosophical

call

them negative philosophies

formed

a very personal

body

and foremost, Malevich was unique

of the

of thought.

that he

in

gave philosophical significance to the pairing of figuration

SUPREMATIST GROUP. DERIVED FROM THE SQUARE. PAGE DESIGN FOR THE NONOBIECTIVE WORLD

(MUNICH AlBERT IANGEN VERLAG. 1927)

(predmetnost) and the objectless (bespredmetnost), which

emerged

in

the theory and criticism of art of the 1910s as a

— the

to designate a

new

and

abstraction.

1919, the Polish-Ukrainian-Russian

In

rise of

nonfiguration

painter stated: "In mentioning the objectless I

only

wanted

to point out clearly that

not treat of things, objects, less,

generally speaking,

etc.,

and

x

26

7

x

tOtt inches

cm)

Kupferslichkabineu. Oftentliche Kunstsammlung Basel

way

reality

1927. pencil on paper. 8rt (20 6

[in

1913-16],

Suprematism does

that's

was beside the

all;

the object-

point."

38

Thus, the

39


A painter clearly distinguished

between the

objectless as

ity

an operative

mode

to represent oneself.

plastic arts

W>^.

*tU—*

-^, '~*J.~yt*^

and "the object-

generally speaking"

that

is,

ring of transfiguration of

all

is

the zero, "the zero as the

that

is

with-object

[predmetnoe] into the objectless [bespredmetnoe}." 4]

deliberately did not seek a

begins.

zero, that the true

in

None

in this

philosophical objectless.

vocabulary from the

Malevich could have used

Suprematism

objectivity (obektivnost)

process;

and nonobjectivity {neobek-

it

is

of being

of the traditional philosophical oppositions

are appropriate

for the

movement

is

It

is

which

case,

is

why

Malevich used

on being.

plastic arts in his reflections

not a philosophy of negation

in

a dialectical

a philosophy of "without," of absence.

many

Even before

of Malevich's little-known texts had

.

(NONOBJECTIVITY). PAGE DESIGN FOR

THE NONOBJECTIVE

1927, pencil on paper, 8'A

the philosophical objectless

published

and nonfigurative

in

x

6Vi

art,

which he does elsewhere, inches

but according to

Kunstsammlung

39

my

Basel

(in particular,

those originally

1918), 42

in

the

Moscow newspaper

Anarkhiia (Anarchy)

and even before the publication of some of

texts,

43

important writings by Malevich existed

English,

and French

translation. 44

his

in

German,

The philosophical import

hypothesis, he did not

of his writings continued to be confirmed as previously

choose to do so because

unpublished texts came out. Martineau, as mentioned

acknowledge

"objectivity/nonobjectivity"

earlier,

his project, instead associating his

thought with that of various other doctrines. There almost a certain "objectivity"

in

is

Suprematism, the objectiv-

of the objectless, of the total absence of the object.

Although the painter denies an object since "the

objectivity in

human

terms of pictur-

being cannot picture

anything," 40 and although the traditional conflict

in

ophy between subject and object means nothing

to him,

it is still

Russian

cm)

Kupferstichkabmett, Offenthche

did not

in

WORLD (MUNICH

ALBERT LANGEN VERLAG, 1927)

5

been reprinted

both

MOMENT

OF DISSOLUTION OE SENSATION

ing

(Suprematicheskoe zerkalo)

from zero,

word

The "Suprematist mirror"

/f»7.

SUPREMATIST ELEMENT AT THE

ity

of being able to picture, to picture oneself, to represent,

Suprematist sense. He

tivnost) to describe

(21x16

a philosophical,

in

different

*i£Zz:v£pn

the

in

less,

13

v

crux of the painter's philosophical thought: the impossibil-

the case that

all is

outside, then nothing

is

one, that

what

is.

It

is

if

there

this

is

philos-

nothing

nothing that

Suprematism wants to release from the weight of the figurative

(i.e.,

of objects [predmetnyi]). This

JEAN-CLAUDE MARCADE

is

precisely the

was the

first

to include Malevich's writings

historicity (Geschichtlichkeit)

ments

of thought since the

— that

dawn

is,

among

a

in

the move-

of philosophy 45

—so

let

us summarize, very generally, his interpretation of

Suprematist writings.

First

and foremost, Martineau

asserts that the statements

firmly

and affirmations made by the

founder of Suprematism "are philosophical and are such rigorous

and eminent fashion." 46 There

is

a "silent

in

and

unconscious dialogue between phenomenology and

Suprematism." 47 Malevich to a

It

is

the experience of art that led

new abstraction,

that of the retreat (Entzug)

of things toward the invisible zone of their provenance,

from which

is

revealed "the essence of unchanging nature


in all

of

changing phenomena." 48 The

its

mission" of Suprematism

is

to "allow 'nature' to 'proceed'

rhythmically to the diversity of

these

'states,'

new

restful in their 'spirit,'

For Martineau, Suprematism

"Where Nietzsche

new

his

is

and allow each

new

leaves the

dynamically" 49

statically or

is

overman without

God:

sense, but rather

only

a world,

At

1920

succeed

new

leaves intact is

.

iconoclastic or

nihilist.

only brought to bear on the .

.

Malevich's

imago and

rigorously nonimitative";

attempt to restore

"pictorial

Suprematism

(if

that

letter,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a new

is

the

a dark skull.

Martineau

being a lesson

insists in

freedom,

was, that

is,

in

pictorial

3

phenomenon.

a

what

it

always

the sole instrument of liberation that exists on

and

political

one

of the great-

teachers of the century." 54

my movement

with aside,

that of

about the

all

who

like

my own and

colors,

in

I

it

happened

so

visit

I

perhaps

was concerned

I

leaving the religion of the spirit

have returned

I

do not know

I

churches, look at the saints and the

have seen that

change of

religions.

toward

pure form of the

its

moving toward the

I

it,

see

I

act,

myself,

in is

coming

painting has

just as

so too the

World of

religion of the Pure act;

prophets were impelled by ize

and now

the world as a whole, that the time

in

an outsider

like

it

years

have entered into the religious World;

all

moved

religions

is

the saints and

but were not able to

this very act,

and for a

real-

blocked as they were by reason, which sees goal and

and every

everything,

in

act

smashed against these two walls of the

work,

of the

religious

World

rational fence.

Malevich's texts allow us to apprehend the significance

countered dominant thought of the 1970s and 1980s,

of his pictorial act.

which adopted the "zero of forms" that Suprematism

rage to write,

in

many

have discerned ontological thought

spiritual (not spiritualism!) in Malevich's

proclaimed

and

painter or like a form that

like a

and twenty-five years have passed, and now

meaning Martineau's appraisal of Malevich, like

2000,

religion of the spirit, a

For

Above

thought as

"the liberation of liberty":

that thought be

earth and above, must read Malevich as est spiritual

his great

fundamental

in

rights to 'being.'"'

on Malevich's

"Anyone who today asks

until

painter's

stand before

I

entire spiritual world in action, all,

he began

unpublished

were necessary) the

religions

all

took out from

why its

precisely at the time that

no longer consider Suprematism

or rather

and the attempt

iconicity in art,

philosophy ... to reestablish

is,

contemplating

the domain of the icon as 'similitude' that 52

necessary to cite a long extract from a

"religion of the pure act":

I

"is

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; that

it is

by Malevich to Gershenzon on April 11,

antimaterialism and his ambition to turn pictorial

l

iconoclasm

this point,

letter written

Suprematism nor

pictorial

is

the objectless world, the

in

philosophical Suprematism into a religion intended to

able to develop thought about the things of

Suprematist philosophy

immersed

is

the traditional

in

reality.

confirms

relationship to the divine vague,

God." 51 Neither

not transcendental

is

philosophical work. This

"transmetaphysical

relationship with

the world [mondaneite] of the overman, including a figure of

of

and

things that are nonobjective

whether

thought" 50 that seeks a

Malevich

'states'

through the miracle of color and technique,

to reincarnate into

and leaves

its

"beyond"

This

"pictorial

1915, but only

saw

a "zero stage." For

Malevich, rendering forms as zero

is

but a springboard for

going beyond zero, into the regions of a liberated Nothing.

defending

it

When

was

filled

with a

real

was because he was simultaneously

his pictorial

need to formulate ing, silently,

Malevich

in

system and had the ontological

words that which he was formulat-

through the

pictorial.

41

Malevich's writing brings


.

us into the very twists

and turns of creation

in

which

"painting-writing-thinking-being" are identical,

if

Notes

not simi-

12.

Alexandre Benois, "Poslednaia futur-

isticheskaia vystavka," speech, January

wish to thank John Malmstad for

I

9

his

[211, 1916, p. 3

assistance, in particular for reviewing the lar,

positions. His writing

from a work that

is

the

is

fruit of reflection

that stems

already done. Both defense and

13

no 7(1922), pp 343-44

it

gives us the philosophical version

Malevich, Suprematizm:

therefore not

know

the

enough

movement

1699:

in

"It is

to learn the Author of a Picture, to of the Brush,

into that of the Spirit." Malevich

philosopher-theologian.

He

is

if

is

we do

not penetrate

a painter

who

expressed

tomakh,

all

the texts

is

extraordinary,

in

arts,

a painter-philosopher, but a great painter

philosopher

who was

idiolectical terms,

able to raise

on par with the

in

is

this article in

Malevich's

a

unique

"Vanka-vstanka," Zhizn

(May 29, 1923),

iskusstva, no. 21 this title,

magnum

pp 15-16

The most

15

gegenstandslose Welt (Munich: Albert

ill

vechnyi pokoi, including the

pamphlet Bog ne

"

Langen, 1927) and Suprematismus: Die

skinut: Iskusstvo,

on the "act of

Tserkov, Fabnka, reflect

Schauberg, 1962) While respecting the

piati

tomakh,

vol

3

the

(as in

title

Suprematizm: Mir kak bespredmetnost

spirit

of Malevich's thought overall, these

German translations of his manuscripts give them a tone that resembles more German Naturphilosophie than Futurist

2000)

Gileia,

was not

a great

philosophical, often

greats, the question of

is

ill

usually rendered as

Malevich, letter to Mania

"nonobjectivity" or "nonobjectivism,"

16.

but, for reasons that

Gershenzon, December 28, 1919,

will explain,

I

I

."

prefer "the objectless

piati

3

Malevich, Suprematizm:

p.

189.

34

tomakh,

vol

3, p.

375

risunka, 17. Nikolai

Khardzhiev,

K

predisloviia," in

"Vmesto

istoni

russkogo avan-

in

garda (Stockholm:

Gileia, 1976), p. 101.

Kazimir Malevich: Sobranie sochinenii v piati

Translated from the French

in

Kazimir Malevich: Sobranie sochinenii v

4 Malevich, "Suprematizm" (1919),

the truth of being.

DuMont

gegenstandslose Welt (Cologne:

See Kazimir Malevich;

Sobranie sochinenii v

flagrant examples are Die

exclamatory rhetoric.

that he

and

khudozh-

i

1923), p. 20. Malevich responded to

Gileia,

pictorial art.

what makes Malevich

the universal history of the

(Moscow:

14 Sergei Isakov, "Tserkov

nik," Zhizn iskusstva, no. 14 (April 10,

nost

vechnyi pokoi)

figure

1

in

Bespredmetnost

What

revoliutsiia,

i

opus, Suprematizm Mir kak bespredmet-

(Moscow;

environment) the philosophical necessity of

vol

There are no pamphlets with

2.

pure white.

discursively (using the verbal tools provided by his cultural

risunka, in

185-207

1995), pp.

but

not a professional

34

Kazimir Malevich: Sobranie sochinenii v piati

of a pictorial practice. Roger de Piles said

original Russian

illus1

tration of objectless art,

Boris Arvatov, in Pechat

English translations of Malevich's writings

from the

by Molly Stevens.

5

tomakh,

vol.

151.

1, p.

18. Ibid. Italics

Ibid

19.

Malevich,

added

"Opoezna,"

in

Kazimir

Malevich Sobranie sochinenii v piati 6 Malevich, "K

II

chasti

Suprematizm tomakh,

kak bespredmetnost,

°°,

St.

Petersburg,

Anna

7.

p.

vol

und Ende

Ibid,

21.

See Jacques Derrida, Of

University of

Suprematismus/The Beginning and the

pp. 83-98.

End of Figurative Painting and 22. Malevich, in

Chicago

Bog ne

Kasimir Malewitsch

100. Geburtstag,

exh cat (Cologne

Galene Gmurzynska, 1978),

p.

65.

8.

See Emmanuel Martineau, Malevitch

et

la

Press, 1989),

skinut, p. 238.

23 Malevich, Suprematizm: Mir kak bespredmetnost pp.

vechnyi pokoi,

ili

219-20. On excitement

movens and on

as

primum

Mikhail Gershenzon's

philosophie (Lausanne: L'Age influence with regard to the question

d'Homme, 1977)

of "perfections," see 9.

Spirit:

Heidegger and the Question (Chicago:

der figurativen Malerei und der

Zum

p 142

pp 142-43

20

43

Leporskaia, "Anfang

Suprematism,"

1,

otdyx" (1920),

handwritten notebook, private archive,

Etienne Gilson, Peinture et Realite

(Pans: Vnn, 1972), p. 290.

my

foreword and

"Une esthetique de I'abime," Malevich, fcms De Cezanne au

preface, in

/

Suprematisme (Lausanne: L'Age 10 Ibid I

I

,

p.

298.

Martineau, Malevitch et

phie, p. 78.

la

philoso-

d'Homme, 1974, 1993), p. 7; translated into English as "An Approach to the Writings of Malevich," Soviet Union/

Union Sovietique pp.

JEAN-CLAUDE MARCADE

225-40

5.

no 2 (1978),


1

24 Cited by Evgenn Kovtun as an epigraph to

de Marmetti

hberte'

mots en

his article "'Les

transmenlalite'

et la

(zaum) des futuristes russes,"

Presence de Marmetti (Lausanne: L'Age

d'Homme,

Russian

the 1910s and revolu-

tionary 1920s See Jean-Claude Marcade,

"Marmetti

Presence de

et Maievitch," in

Marmetti. pp. 256-57. 26.

The

published

Kazimir Malevich:

in

philoso-

la

in

Michelis,

//

(Paris:

269

phie

que

tant

repos eternel Essai sur

le

futurismo

Donate

la

March

Critique,

and

und

Velimir Chlebnikov

Lobacevskij, vol

de

"

la

Welt (see n

15)

remained the only trans-

when

the

first

English translation

appeared (Malevich, fssays on

de

signification

la in

theone poetique de Maievitch: Cahier

d'Homme,

(Lausanne: L'Age pp.

Climax of Disclosure (Munich 1991),

28

Prestel,

is

from Marmetti's

et la sensibilite

(1914), in Giovanni Lista,

numenque"

Futunsme.

Documents Proclamations

(Lausanne: L'Age

d'Homme,

1973),

pp 147-52 of the similarities

and differences between Marmetti and

my

Iskusstvo, 1993), pp.

bespredmetnost

my "Une

in

vechnyi pokoi,

Hi

is

p.

the

84.

title

in

Kazimir Malevich: Sobranie sochinenii v piati

and

Malevich, forts

II:

d'Homme,

1977, 1993); and "Maievitch

36 propositions en

1979), pp.

59-77 la

philoso-

tomakh,

vol. 1, p.

48. Malevich, "Suprematicheskoe zerkalo," p. 273.

49. Martineau,

"Une philosophie des

'Suprema,'" p

130

273 50. Martineau, "Preface," p. 27.

42. Eleven articles from Anarkhiia, edited 51

in

Kazimir Malevich: Sobranie sochinenii v piati

tomakh,

vol

3,

pp.

Ibid, p

26

52. Ibid., p 33.

75-125. 53. Martineau, "Maievitch et I'enigme

Among

esthetique de

the most important of these

ochnogo elementa v zhivopisi, Stephan Von Wiese (Mayence: Kupferberg, 1980):

'cubiste,'" p

63

A

ed.

54. Martineau, Maievitch et

Florian

phie, p

Targynelkuli vilag

Hungarian), trans. Eva Forgacs

(Budapest:

Corvma Kiado.

1986),

la

philoso-

224

55 See Kazimir Malevich: Sobranie sochinenii v piati tomakh, vol

3, p.

341

and

Kazimir Malevich v texts

russkom muzee

(St

Editions, 2000), p

32 See

in

are 1/45: Vvedenie v teoriiu pribav-

"

in

skinut

"Vanka-vstanka,"

French and

46. Martineau, Maievitch et

of a 1923 manifesto by Malevich,

(in

1916,

Bog ne

in

to the French trans-

skinut, p. 241.

"Suprematicheskoe zerkalo"

Malevich, letter to Alexandre Benois,

May

o

237-50.

40 Malevich, Bog ne

43

I'abime'VAn Approach to the Writings

3

lations of

in

cat. (Paris: Galerie

phie, p. 121.

"Marmetti et

Maievitch," pp. 250-65.

of Malevich

i

voobshche,"

by Andrei D. Sarabianov, appear

29 On the subject

30. See

vari-

47 Martineau, "Preface," p .27

This last phrase

Malevich, see

thoughtful articles that delve into

41 Malevich, Suprematizm: Mir kak

manifesto "La Splendeur geometrique et

Manifestes.

i

philoso-

Malevich, Zhivopis. Teoriia (Moscow:

1983),

pp 89ff

mecanique

obektivnom v iskusstve

la

his highly

marge Des nouveaux systemes en art," in Maievitch. Actes du Colloque international tenu au Centre Georges Pompidou (Lausanne L'Age d'Homme,

(1919),

I

45-75, and Kazimir Malevich: The

complemented by

et I'enigme cubiste.'

"O subektivnom

39. See Malevich,

Khlebnikov,"

1

p. 150.

la

Gegenstandslosigkeit chez Maievitch et

son rapport a

Art, vol

(Copenhagen: Borgen, 1968])

38 Malevich, "Suprematizm"

Nakov

1975)

Le miroir suprematiste (Lausanne: L'Age

Nikolai

"A Propos

is

English, "Preface"

Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch,

40(1978), pp 129-62,

Libre,

Jean Chauvelin, 1977),

lations of Malevich's writings until 1968,

Kazimir Malevich,

ferns, ed. Andrei

Champ

Suprematisme, exh.

le

1975, pp 284-96, and Rainer Crone,

Le

Marcade

d'Homme. 1974-94),

"Une philosophie des 'Suprema,'"

176-77.

pp.

I,

De

37. Die gegenstandslose Welt

"Zum Suprematismus

Troels

ous aspects of Suprematist philosophy:

in

Suprematismus: Die gegenstandslose "Maievitch et

modele Imguistique,"

the four

ed

45. Martineau's Maievitch et

monde en

Padrta. "Le

Jin

Maievitch: Cahier

Vallier,

Art,

in

French, the four volumes of

and Maievitch

Jean-Claude Marcade,

sans-objet ou

(Ban:

in

(Lausanne: L'Age

Maievitch (Pans Casterman, 1990),

precarite d'un projet humaniste,"

1909- 1929

27 See Dora

15); in English,

foils, ed. Jean-Claude

35. Malevich, "Suprematizm" (1922),

quoted

and

78);

102.

phie, p

1913-14.

in

italiano in Russia,

1973), p.

Welt (see n

volumes of Essays on

pp 327-53

vol. 3,

36

were

Russian mainly

G De

See Cesare

found

p 161

Italian Futurists in

Suprematismus: Die gegenstandslose

is

Marmetti

principle writings of

and of the

1924

34 Martineau, Maievitch et

defended Marmetti against

critics in

German, Die gegenstandslose Welt and

Andersen (Copenhagen: Borgen, 1968-

1982), p. 234.

25. Malevich

the most important are

44.

Malevich and Gershenzon from 1918 to

Sobranie sochinenii v piati tomakh,

in

Among

33 The correspondence between

my "Une

Petersburg Palace

393

from the Malevich Archive,

Museum, Amsterdam, in Malevich, Teoriia, pp. 237-380, and

Zhivopis

esthetique de I'abime,"

pp 22-23, "An Approach

to the

Writings of Malevich," pp

236-37

Stedelijk

in

Kazimir Malevich: Sobranie sochinenii v piati

tomakh,

vol

3

43


MIKHAIL MATIUSHIN, KAZIMIR MALEVICH, AND ALEKSEI

KRUCHENYKH

Slate Russian

Museum,

IN St.

UUSIKIRKKO. JULY 1913 Petersburg


c >

o < >

THE SUPREMUS "LABORATORY-HOUSE": RECONSTRUCTING THE JOURNAL Malevich

mentioned the idea of

first

a

new

journal

in

May

1915,

long before he had invented the term "Suprematism"; at this time, the tion

title

of the journal

was

to be Nul [Zero]. This

coincided chronologically with Malevich's

develop a zero."

1

new

first

men-

quest to

initial

theory of nonobjective art that would "go beyond

"That which was done unconsciously

is

now

bearing extra-

ordinary fruit," Malevich wrote to Mikhail Matiushin on

1915, referring back to the opera Pobeda

his

it

27,

notorious drawing for the curtain of

nad solntsem

rospectively rationalizing

May

{Victory over the Sun, 1913), ret-

as a prototype of Suprematism, an

anticipation of his Black Square (1915). 2 Malevich carefully con-

cealed his

new

ideas from his

rivals,

especially Ivan Puni (Jean

Pougny), but he shared them with old friends

and tested of in

in

collaboration: Aleksei

who had been

tried

Kruchenykh spent the summer

room he rented from Malevich at his dacha Kuntsevo, and both were occasionally visited there by Ivan

1915 working

Kliun.

On May

in

a

29, Malevich shared with Matiushin his idea for a

new journal and asked

for his support

"trio" of Malevich, Matiushin,

in

reuniting the old Futurist

and Kruchenykh:

45


â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

the most appropriate name, for

it

supremacy," he

signifies

wrote to Matiushin. Thus was determined the name of 4

new group

the

and, with

planning, Supremus.

emphasized the manuscripts, part

is

it

written

it,

(It is

Latin

that of the journal they

were

interesting to note that Malevich

etymology of

this

word:

in his

most

rarely occurs in Cyrillic, but for the in Latin letters.)

Suprematism was introduced to the public

December

in

1915, at Posledniaia futuristicheskaia vystavka kartin, "0.

OLGA ROZANOVA. KSENIA BOGUSLAVSKAIA. AND KAZIMIR MALEVICH AT THE

10 EXHIBITION, GALERIE

Paintings, "0. 10" [Zero-Ten]) in Petrograd.

DOBYCHINA.

PETROGRAD, 1915-16

leadership struggle that

Museum,

State Russian

10" (nul-desat) (The Last Futurist Exhibition of

accompanied the

The

internal

exhibition

was

Petersburg

St-

among

not a simple one, and relationships

the members,

complicated by personal ambitions, were evidently

We the

are planning to put out a journal and have begun to discuss

how and what

we

to zero, will

it.

Since

have decided to

go beyond

some

of

zero.

useful advice.

there's a

room

It

for

it

call

we

intend to reduce everything

Afterward

Nul.

it

would be good

It

if

we

ourselves

first

would

it

will

also be

you and

it's

be two

good

quiet.

printer's sheets

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; not

in

artists

is

that everything

beyond zero" was

Malevich, Khun, and Kruchenykh's collection

came out

that

do

even

who it

so that

Malevich

Malevich

Vices of the

summer

in

if

now everyone

promised to order frames for me,

my

is

pictures

is

before mostly else.

purposely

would look ragged. They

was forced to admit that

something of their

organization depends on

Academicians), which

and the

this entire exhibition

done underhandedly, and

butchered the catalogue and did so many other petty things that

partially

akademikov (Secret

is

concerned with doing whatever possible to hurt someone

Thus Puni,

of essays Tainye poroki

this exhibition

was prepared:

didn't

reflected

which

everyone only worried about themselves,

going even better. 1

This idea of "going

in

i.e.,

Then things would get

...

to Kruchenykh, Olga Rozanova

The most disagreeable thing about it,

you could come here

if

In letters

conveyed the tense atmosphere

you could also offer

We're pooling our resources to publish

ten rubles apiece, and at

much, but good.

in

strained.

how

lackey,

disgusting.

it's

and the

stability of

...

the

long he remains satisfied with

his

Moscow. "position." 5

(To symbolize their orientation

toward the

authors decided to date the work early

the

fall,

which the

Malevich had

new movement, in his

new

1

future, the

91 6 on the cover.) By

come up with

the

final

name

interpretation symbolized the

NINAGURIANOVA

art:

of

"supremacy" of

"Suprematism

conflict

when

inventing the term "Suprematism,"

philosophy of nonobjective

The

is

began even before the exhibition opened,

the other participants, led by the organizers of the

show, Puni and Ksenia Boguslavskaia, use the term "Suprematism"

made

a clever tactical

in

move by

flatly

refused to

the catalogue. Malevich preparing a brochure,


Of kubizma k suprematizmu. Novyi zhivopisnyi realizm

Kruchenykh,

New Painterly

(From Cubism to Suprematism: The

Realism), printed by Matiushin for the

[Vera)

...

Pestel,

opening as

a

coun-

Owing to

Puni.

It

was the

manifesto

become about

first

advance

printed publication

any price to issue

my work and my

in

christen

it

the form of a

has

"It

participants

2.

It

will

appear on January

1.

and thereby announce

the press, and at that time the

was the same

0.

and

after a

row of

dots: "No. 2 will include K.

in

Fool's

Cap

of Philistine Logic.'" 8 Malevich's inclusion of

Puni and Boguslavskaia

of

list

and ask

several editions of his music should be put in the

6

in this list

was motivated by

purely

practical considerations related to the financing of the

journal,

as that of the

a note in the margin, "write Roslavets

Malevich's articles 'A Response to the Old Day' and 'The

The following September, the Suprematists' journal in

is

chronicle,"

brochure

this little

There

which of

copyright," Malevich wrote to Matiushin.

was announced

Roslavets,

which had been "censored" by

— to declare the new movement.

crucial at

Nikolai

limited quantities of the issue, subscriptions are

being accepted for Supremus no.

terpart to the catalogue,

Yurkevich,

...

Mikhail Matiushin, Natalia Davydova.

10 exhibition

and when

Puni's pretensions

(which had only grown since

toward

0. 10) led

a leading role

to an unavoidable

Apollon (nos. 9-10) ran an advertisement declaring the break with Malevich, publication of the journal was launch of "the monthly journal Supremus, which

will

delayed due to a lack of sponsorship.

come out

in

Moscow

December

in

or January

and

will

be Conditions within the Russian art world of 1915-16

devoted to painting, decorative

music, and literature.

art,

were conducive Principal organizers

and contributors include Malevich, brief past

Rozanova, Puni, [Aleksandra]

and

in

"

Malevich wrote about the journal

a letter to Matiushin

in

more

dated October 27, 1916:

detail

In late

garde group

"I've exist,

and

it

in

summing up

of the avant-garde's

consequent struggle to establish

Exter, Kliun, [Mikhail]

leadership.

Menkov.

a

to a

a

new

1914, the most significant early avant-

Petrograd, Union of Youth, had ceased to

had soon become

clear

after Mikhail

already arranged everything. Materials are being collected,

we're

all

there.

I

Send

set with the typography.

directions.

The

first

issue

won't appear

is

on Cubism,

until issue three."

articles I'll

7

on new

go on from

However,

in

Malevich's handwritten draft of an advertisement for the journal, in

which states that the second issue would appear

January 1917, Malevich himself

is

listed

among

the

contributors:

Contributors to Supremus will be those

who

have turned aside

the rays of yesterday's sun from their faces. Kazimir Malevich,

Nadezhda Udaltsova, Olga Rozanova, Mikhail

Menkov,

Ivan

Puni,

Ivan Kliun, Liubov Popova,

Ksenia

Boguslavskaia,

Aleksei

WORKS BY KAZIMIR MAlANO VLADIMIR TATLIN IN fUTURIST TRAMWAY V. PF.TROGR" INSTALLATION OF

i

Court-

47


Larionov and Natalia Goncharova, the leading figures of

the

Moscow

art world, left Russia

—that

the history of the Russian avant-garde

a certain period

was

over.

in in

Supremus. Power

became

the

in

new

institutionalized art

a central issue:

These Mass meetings have been organized

events charged politics within the avant-garde and

which closure occurred simul-

in

new

taneously with the development of

Two dominant

aesthetic theories.

schools emerged, organized around the

opposing poles of nonobjective

two

Malevich and Vladimir

art,

Each school hoped to monopolize the avant-garde

Tatlin.

movement. For Malevich, then, the struggle nence was being waged not only within

his

autocrats of the Academies.

ungrateful

tor Tatlin's

it

pretty sight: these

a

to the

hangmen, now crowing over the corpse

Yesterday they tossed out rebellious young

bow down

they

to freedom and

new

wear red ribbons

in

today

truths,

their button-

group,

as well. By 1916, the nucleus of his competi-

group had taken definite shape and

was not

It

have fed themselves on crumbs from

monarch, painted millions of portraits of him,

monuments

holes. Interesting as well

but outside

everyday of

artistic

of the lord, singing out their baseness.

for preemi-

own

who

[artists]

their beloved raised

the

in

The leaders of the meeting are the same anointed

free Russia.

provoked an atmosphere

world

own

his

was the

liberated "youth" that elected

the "wretched" chairmen. The Suprematists were watching and marveling at the suppleness of the reincarnation. 10

group appeared vulnerable: few of the members were well

known,

his

own

outweighed the

activity significantly

realize that

bution of the other participants, and, moreover, the

ambivalence of some members,

more independent

who

artistic position,

tended toward a

was

alarming.

Under these circumstances, Malevich was the

contri-

1916,

In

controlled by

strategic necessity.

the recently got a verbose letter

from Kliunkov

and others

will

[Lev]

Bruni,

be significantly larger and have more

success with the public than the Suprematists. He's appealing to

me.

He

says

that the Suprematists should

harmoniously and so on,

calls

me

new movement

work

closely

and

own

when

social

the

after the

and

environment."

first

issue of

initial

logical strategy

in fact,

the spring of 1917,

Supremus was being put together

11

as he wrote, "to form

According to Malevich's

become an

his

original

leading role

forum

something between

by the October Revolution

later that year,

and paradoxical impact on the

had

a

complex

social, philosophical,

aesthetic ideas of the avant-garde,

NINA GURIANOVA

The events

and

this

was

and

reflected

and and

a

fortress (he referred to his journal as a laboratory-house

new

[dom-laboratoria]) for the

philosophy and theory of

The innovative form and

of this journal (which Rozanova,

his journal.

in

for experiment

artistic

a virtual laboratory

and the program of

February 1917, followed

vision,

own

the art world,

to

nonobjective

in

[his]

ambitions and assuring

was

delay, could not but affect Malevich's ideo-

of the First Russian Revolution

an attempt

to establish a basis for

his

a "rare" artist, etc. 9

political situation in

ideological but a

his journal as art,

to

Supremus, apart from being a vehicle for

discussion,

The

He conceived

first

strictly

[Kliun]. Flattering

and alarming. They are afraid that the group of Tatlin,

one group, was not only an

to create a social context for his

Rozanova wrote to Kruchenykh: I

the publication of an art journal,

art.

called "strictly partisan") 12

Suprematism group, and

its

of "collective

its

"in everything,"

emphasis

in

work" over

in

artistic

ideology

a letter to Matiushin,

proclamation of its

orientation toward the

numerous

articles

individual art

on the

priority

— served to enforce


Suprematist doctrine.

On

the draft of a

title

page

for the

adding

journal, Malevich could not resist the temptation of in pencil:

"A cockerel

and wide." 13

that will be heard far

The metamorphosis from Nul to Supremus

the

in

is

of Malevich's journal

title

symbolic. While both

titles

convey the anarchic idea of creating the world out of "nothing" and the equation of "nothing" with "everything," the shift

in

emphasis from the extreme

of "zero" to the Utopian

nihilism

supreme domination ("Suprem-

new

atism" meant "supremacy" to Malevich) marked a

stage

the evolution of the avant-garde. The anarchic

in

antiutopia of alogism yielded to a quest for an objective

"academic

universal law (Matiushin incisively noted

sions"

in

the term "Suprematism"

universal, and, consequently,

concept of

who

But attic

a

of

it

new

book. But

history of our art

thoughts within

an inescapably Utopian

down

our youthfulness from the

to our young offspring?

Who

will pass

on the

we do

not yet

laws from our tablets? You see, is

it

...

necessary, indispensable.

The book

is

a little

the sum of our days, the key locking our

and the attempt to

Suprematism seems very

far

maximalism of Malevich and is

the assertion of the

us.'

This histoncism

of

),

allu-

Strategy changed as well:

of us will remain to take

and show

new book have

art.

14

register the

from the

his

genealogy

earlier futuristic

comrades-in-arms, but

indeed the main leitmotif of the journal,

in

it

IIUBOV POP0VA. COVER DESIGN FOR THE

PROPOSED JOURNAL SUPREMUS. 1916-17

many

respects inspired by the desire to reflect or re-create the extratextual context of the

Supremus and

itself

artistic

has

movement. To some degree,

become

a

fragment of the

historical

context, without which the "aesthetic object"

of the cultural legacy can

no longer

Bakhtinian theory: "The work [of

exist,

art] also

according to includes

its

49


necessary extratextual context. The work, as

enveloped context

which

in

it

were,

is

the music of the intonational-evaluative

in

is

it

understood and evaluated."

16

Exter

were no longer members of the Suprematist

group, and Malevich, Rozanova, Udaltsova, Roslavets,

and Kruchenykh, among

Kliun, Yurkevich,

announced The

of

all,

until

had also changed:

Malevich had asserted himself as editor

chief. Radically

changing

in

the third issue, he wrote several articles for the

issue:

first

"Kubizm" ("Cubism"), "Futurizm" ("Futurism"),

in

the Face to Ferroconcrete"),

and "Teatr" ("Theater"), which together were

to

make up

the ideological core of the publication and defined the "strictly

partisan" character noted by Rozanova. Although

Cubism remained

a

theme throughout, the accent had

shifted to the formation of a universal theory of nonobjectivity in

painting, literature, music, architecture, sculpture,

theater,

and

no small measure to

in

rather than practical basis.

of a

contributors (Yurkevich)

indisputably confirmed by the contents of the journal:

"Suprematism philosophy

The

is

is

to

all

previously existing painting as

to journalism."' 7

journal's

that

program and contents were well defined in

Matiushin written that May: "A periodical. in

nature.

Its

The

materials (not only for the

all

even for the second

June 1917.

In July,

were

issue)

end of the

fuss

fall,

connection

in

in

They

few members

Udaltsova's diary of

November

22:

of the group] broke with Suprematism in

an outrageous manner. Malevich suddenly went quarreled; into

the journal comes out and

if

but

fine,

it,

being

is still

serious differences

the Suprematists had begun to emerge, judging by

a note

[a

but

first,

effect ready by

in

with the publication of the journal, which

among

spite

in

Rozanova wrote to Shemshurin: "These

few days there has been some

such faith

if

the

money

the journal;

in

it

is

has

we

crazy,

and we

we

get back what

gone, horrible.

.

bogged down, but

I

put

There was

.

.

still

think

it

appear."

On March

20, 1918, Udaltsova

made

the

final

her diary concerning the unpublished journal: terribly

disappointing that our journal has not

out." 23

It

possible that after the journal

is

new

Rozanova (given her position as that, after

Strictly

1918,

(in

theater,

painting,

and so

on). Articles, a chronicle, letters, aphorisms, poetry.

NINAGURIANOVA

had already

issue

wrote to Matiushin

issue of the journal never did appear,

first

of the fact that

past

of

has already been delivered to the printer." 20

a letter to

program: Suprematism

sculpture, architecture, music, the

"it

first

18, she

end

the process

in

entry

in

"How come

was not

published the printer returned the manuscripts to

by 1917. Rozanova described Supremus

partisan

at the

philosophical

The provocative nature

remark by one of the Supremus

was

its

Shemshurin

and that the

been composed. 19 On June

will

and

a letter to Andrei

In

printed." 21 By the

"Arkhitektura kak poshchechina zhelezo-betonu" ("Architecture as a Slap

both a popular scholarly and a nonfictional

of being published

partly

not appearing

his position of

18

May, Rozanova wrote that the journal was

as the principal contributors to the journal.

original structure of the journal

First

were

others,

articles of

nature.

By the middle of 1917, Puni, Boguslavskaia, Popova,

and

reproductions of Suprematist pictures, and applied art,"

and

editorial secretary),

Rozanova's premature death

some

of these

went

in

to Kruchenykh

and from

there to Nikolai Khardzhiev. These materials are his archive at

the Stedelijk

and

November

now

Museum, Amsterdam.

Judging by the editorial notes preserved

in

the

in


Khardzhiev archive, the

issue of the journal

first

was

to be

divided into four main sections: Painting (Cubism), Literature, Music,

and Theater.

Critical reviews, art

and correspondence were placed

end of the

at the

ued

news, issue.

("Greeting to the Suprematists," the in

Rozanova's hand on lined paper)

May

1917" and labeled

1,

24

marked "Moscow,

"0 bespredmetnom

new fair

zemli

i

"Cubism"

which appears to be

"Cubism"); first

draft

The

Word

we

Roslavets, 25

I

on the

basis of

to begin with Kruchenykh's

as Such," "No. 10"), originally published

1917

in

especially for

texts in this section

Gly-Gly

(in

in

1913 and

Supremusâ&#x201E;˘ From

we know that

the remaining

were to have been Kruchenykh's play

which the protagonists are Velimir Khlebnikov,

and the zaum poetry

was intended

in

texts.

Finally, in

in

among

1917 goda

utors. This

the case with "Kubizm, futunzm, suprema-

by Kruchenykh. 35 in

Music" was

the music section, presumably with other

the

last

part of the issue

would have been

Malevich's essay "Theater," followed by a chronicle written

fragmentary informathe contrib-

in

iaitsa (Blue Eggs),

Kruchenykh and

"On the Old and the New

Matiushin's article to be included

this first

from correspondence

collections Balos, by

Rozanova, and Golubye

for

tion gleaned is

preceding

all

Vladimir Mayakovsky, Malevich, Matiushin, and Rozanova)

have determined to belong to

issue of the journal

to be concluded

missing from the

The archive contains other manuscripts

section.

form that

it

was

Rozanova's correspondence,

a preliminary version of

can only assume that

was

a text titled "Usta

is

and

literary section

reworked

iskusstve"

khudozhnik" ["The Mouth of the Earth and the

Artist"], 27

the

text

a draft, 26 however,

is

section of the journal

"Deklaratsna slova kak takovogo" ("The Declaration of the

current, including Suprematism. Unfortunately, the

copy of Malevich's

first

art styles.

sets forth the basic philosophical sources of the

archive (there

The

Supremus," 33 addresses the same

the distinction between Suprematism and

red pencil "No. 1," which

("On Nonobjective Art") by the composer which

is

Next (labeled "No. 2") was to have been the

general theoretical article

issues of

by Yurkevich's brief and rather superficial untitled essay on

copy of which

manifesto was to open the

clearly indicates that this issue.

in

is

by Udaltsova ("No. 8"), which was "to be contin-

in later

issues.

Malevich's manuscript "Privetstvie suprematistam" final

thoughts on the subject. An untitled

reflects Malevich's article

Malevich's hand, titled "Shto proiskhodelo v fevrale i

v

March 1917"),

marte" ("What Happened reviews,

and

in

February and

by Udaltsova to

letters

tizm" ("Cubism, Futurism, Suprematism") by Rozanova 28

Malevich ("No. 19") and to Rozanova ("No. 20") and her

and "0 starom

notes entitled "Thoughts on Art" ("No. 21"). 36

New

in

i

novom

v

muzyke" ("On the Old and the

Music") by Matiushin; 29 both essays are absent

from the Khardzhiev archive, but the authorized typewritten originals are

in

other collections

in

In

the text that

article

"Architecture as a Slap

in

"Futurism" 3

been

Kliun's

'

is

is

labeled "No. 5,"

marked "No.

7."

open the

journal, "Greeting to

years

now have become

and

decades, but

we

have as before

the Face to remained true to our

Ferroconcrete" 30

to

Moscow. Malevich's Many

programmatic

was

the Suprematists," Malevich wrote:

his article

Between these may have

"Nonobjective Art," 32 which on the whole

Burning tirelessly

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;or

in

ever

spirit

new

like ovens,

materials

we

we have

resmelt

new

deductions

51

acquired,

we

will

move

conclusions and form


am

I

delighted with our meeting on the pages of the

laboratory-house Supremus.

More than once have we met road.

Where we

at

common

the stations along our

met, the bonfires burned, raising the flame of the

mountain. Jack of Diamonds, Donkey's

Tramway

Tail,

Union of Youth,

Target,

The Store.

V, 0.10,

These are the

sites of

our burned-out bonfires, our days,

already past.

The

aspiration to

make Supremus an

"laboratory-house" manifested

itself

of content (each article touches,

on the problematic school and urges

not only at the

level

one way or another,

relationship of the individual to the

artists to

overcome

"collective creation"), but also

such different

in

extraindividual

artistic

in

individuality in

the very unusual unity of

voices (Rozanova, Matiushin,

Udaltsova, Roslavets) orchestrated by Malevich.

Initially,

it

seems, the issue was to have begun with a brief joint ," 37

declaration by the Suprematists, "Our Consciousness

signed by the

members

N. Udaltsova,

M. Menkov,

N. Roslavets,

.

.

of the group: "K. Malevich, L.

Popova [crossed out

probably by Malevich], N. Davydova, WORKS DESIGNED BY NATALIA DAVYDOVA. OLGA ROZANOVA. AND NADEZHDA UDALTSOVA IN THE SECOND EXHIBITION OF CONTEMPORARY DECORATIVE ART â&#x20AC;˘VERBOVKA," SALON K MIKHAILOVA. MOSCOW,

.

M. Matiushin,

I.

in pencil,

Kliun, Yurkevich,

out

Pestel, Exter [crossed

in

INSTALLATION OF

DECEMBER

6-19, 1917

pencil, also

probably by Malevich]." (The original,

Malevich's hand, tion

was

is

in

the Khardzhiev archive.) The declara-

to set forth the goal of the journal and

Courtesy Institute of Modern Russian Culture, Los Angeles

ideological position, establishing

passing

all

spheres of

we

artistic activity: "In

NINAGURIANOVA

artistic,

our

life."

a

new

encom-

our journal

have set out to provide the contours of the

idea of Suprematism, which bears within

the

its

Suprematism as

"basis for creativity," a universal synthetic style

Supremus,

in

musical,

it

a

new

idea of

and poetic perception of nature and


a

The rhetoric of

this text

full

is

Cubo-Futunst manifestos, and

new

art as the only

means

yesterday into the

new

Suprematism,

Cubism

conceptual

it

is

is

Cubism

of allusions to early

rooted

in

the myth

of the

of breaking out of "the ring of

day."

In

Malevich's "genealogy" of

that plays the

most important

as an aesthetic

phenomenon and

(already explored by Russian artists

were

of

no

to appear

in

Supremus

to 1915)

was

exclusively

on the

level

on

are of value to museums, like the

muscles of meat," a revolutionary source that has led to

—or the creative

will

— over

did not prevent the Suprematists from recognizing themselves as part of the international

Cubism was to be present

in

as a general

any of the

articles)

reinvented by

Suprematists as the origin of the avant-garde tradition tradition that

was nonetheless

new methodological

revolutionary. This

approach, based on

reflection by the avant-garde.

was

— a

historical self-

Supremus was the

first

attempt to establish the Russian avant-garde movement as

an

artistic entity

within

own

its

historical

development, as

a dynamically evolving, self-regenerating tradition.

(Malevich wrote

Futurism principal

In

"Futurism" that "the

new

shortcoming of the Futurists to be fact that they

"stopped and

their "acad-

tried to use old

of expression to convey the new.")

in

much

Impressionism (or rather the concept or formula of

movement

little in

common

squares

monuments

with the actual

of the latter half of the nineteenth century).

in

public squares.

I

and Futurism

to Cubism

and

that defeated the old art of repetition

brought us to spontaneous creation

Malevich praised the destruction of things

Cubism,

in

which he believed had completely changed the reference points of

art,

singling out

and leading

of painterly language "as such"

to the

dominance

and the study

of the

formal qualities of painting. "Considering Cubism the liant

objectness,

we emerge

into space, color,

with these three worlds that in

bril-

solution to our problems, being liberated from

we

will

and time.

explore our

following issues of Supremus," he wrote

of the Earth

and the

Artist."

in

It

is

new

tasks

"The Mouth

According to Malevich, the in this

direction by

abstracting the primary elements of painterly structure, particularly color

and form: "Through Cubism and

Futurism, the artist burst with a convulsive

the freedom of pure

came

creativity, into

color. Painting

continues: "Cubism

the 1920s he would deconstruct and reinvent

Impressionism, which had

weapons

in

They

art.

of the Social Revolution.

which monuments should be erected

painting

Malevich's almost postmodern sensibility, he

projected the Suprematist perception onto Cubism, as

relics

Suprematists took the next step

value of

— speed — must not be finalized" and named the

emism," the

means

in

as the

European avant-garde,

Supremus only

concept (no names, even those of Georges Braque and in

Relics to

propose creating

"varnished art." While a strong sense of national identity

mentioned

of an

"Futurism":

in

Cubism and Futurism are the revolutionary banners of

Picasso, are

Cubism

over the principles of the Old

role, a "victory

Rationality of centuries of culture," "supported

the triumph of "creation"

it

the years leading up

interest to the Suprematists.

form Malevich wrote

idea, a

in

the practice of

is

closest to color."

issue in

Cubism,

it

is

movement

only color and form."

the time of art

when

While color was not

became the fundamental

painting for the Suprematists.

Futurism, Suprematism"

In

into

the study of pure

He

consciousness really a

major

principle of

Rozanova's "Cubism,

and Malevich's

articles for

Supremus, a new concept was introduced: color-painting

53


â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

(tsvetopis). 38

Malevich wrote

soundless poetry, intended not for reading and declama-

"Greeting to the

in

Suprematists":

tion but for purely visual perception. In the revised

"Declaration of the Having been transfigured

in

Word

as Such," Kruchenykh theorized

the rapids of the changing, running

we have

leapt

beyond the boundaries of the

on the mutually complementary (but not interchangeable)

zero of repetitions and have

come

face to face with color. Color

nature of abstract visual and auditory elements

rings of the horizon,

and color alone touches our creative nucleus. centrifugal

force

creates

new

strata

of

turns

It

color

it,

and the

masses,

naked

process of intuitive cognition: "sound painting,

and the

letter in

on the formal categories

This exclusive concentration

of painting allowed the artist to exceed

Already

in

1915, Rozanova had professed that "objectness

and nonobjectness

(in

painting) are not

tendencies within a single I

its

even think

it

art,

but

two

two

in

nonobject

art." 39

very notion of nonobjective art

beyond the bounds of

and

interesting article

"On Nonobjective

going

in

which he perceived

tions.

Painting

not at

is

all

for easel pictures or for exhibi-

The old methods of reproducing and of viewing

The extant

art

New wine demands new

the next urgent question."

is

from

a particular interpretation, the

notion of the "nonobjec-

Supremus, "Perhaps the

are probably not suitable now.

wineskins. This

a return

ideas of universal that exist independently of things.

tive" can be reduced to a simple rejection of the

New

is

the Supremus texts, especially

As Yurkevich wrote

easel painting.

untitled manuscript for

of the

the individualistic philosophy of the particular to Platonic

Within in his

intense

nonobjective creation,

a

possibility of

new epistemology

Art," Roslavets discussed the basis of the philosophy of

Contained within the

was the

in

in

those by Malevich and Roslavets. In his

different arts

on

music, color

in

nonobjective, which Kruchenykh only touched upon,

different

sensible to substitute projections

screen for paint

color)." This

another core theme

limitations.

the

poetry (thought = insight +

nonobjective peaks of facets joined together.

sound + outline +

in

articles written for

Supremus unquestion-

ably indicate that Malevich originally considered his style

the

artist

dependency of

on the necessity to represent the object and on subordi-

nation to canons that require the

artist

to copy "nature," to

render as accurate as possible a reproduction of visible nature

and surrounding

objects.

term one goes back to "nonobjectiveness"

however,

If,

a universal,

in art

in

the interpretation of our

the

artist's striving

toward

can be raised to a profound basic prin-

ciple of creativity.

as synthetic of

and

and not bound by the borders

universal

one or another genre or form of

promoted

unbound

his nonobjectivity

"creativity" (as

art.

Moreover, he

theory as a theory of

opposed

of "art") capable of penetrating

to the

Following Schopenhauer's conception, Roslavets singled

out the notions of "will" and "intellect":

"narrow" notion

beyond the boundaries of

The power of the thing, of the the idea; consequently,

artistic activity

to

encompass the most

life.

will,

direct influence of Malevich,

during this period

became

interested

NINAGURIANOVA

is

the power of the form,

and, as Schopenhauer correctly observes, only the intel-

lect liberated

Under the

object,

a state of the intellect enslaved by

is

diverse spheres of the

human

it

in

Kruchenykh

the notion of

from the

will,

the pure

to the heights of the intuitive insight exclusively

depends. Our

will

is

a

intellect,

is

capable of

upon which

rising

creative genius

symbol of the connection


between our

spirit

(pure intellect) and matter, the earth, our

personal subjective interests. The activity of

will

is

therefore opposed to

the intellect directed toward anything but

the purely practical

Only the

artist,

through contemplation and

from the

ble of liberating himself

will

intuition,

that binds

and understanding the essence of pure creative tive (ideas).

The liberated

naturalistic

dogmatism with

primary forms his soul,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; ideas

goals

its

...

and phenomena].

relationship [to things

...

all

all

orifices of things

for

have wanted to

will in its objec-

sense" of

the Platonic sense) that are concealed

moments

to

be

embodied

intuitively

his

in

from the particular to the

was toward

synthesis,

who have gone

universal:

back out of things, out of the center of

in

creative exertions

its

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; they have

of creative inspi-

when

have cracked the

shell of

the

he

Intuition

art.

who

toward space. Those

egg of creation of nature and emerged from

it

with no thought

rational-

to the pieces of

must

the essence and the synthesis and

the earth, out of the marrow of

understands to be the highest stage of cognition, ity

through color they

proceeding upward on the steps of generalized notions

striven

ration

...

acts

wealth of

at

know

the soul of things." The other path

human

faith in the inexhaustible

from which he draws upon

the

in

through the word they nave searched

.

.

themselves and for the mystery

But those (in

.

cracks

little

capa-

is

"common

replaces the

artist

they have tried to penetrate into the

its

scattered armor. Those

who have come

out of

yield to "faith."

the color of things to color. Let us proceed out of the labyrinth of

Roslavets perceived the origin of the principle of

nonob-

the earth into boundless space with numbers and color and

let

us

husk the grain of consciousness.

jectiveness

in art

to

lie in

the rejection of positivist

rationalism, of a utilitarian attitude

contemporary

artist

has

toward

now matured

art:

"The

The notion of

to a consciousness

etics of

Supremus

and

intuition

can,

I

think,

of the necessity to separate completely the will from the

synonymous with

intellect in the creative process."

priority to creative intuition

"The Mouth of the Earth and the

In

new

discussed Suprematism as a

was not

to establish a

new

beauty (which Malevich,

Malevich

Artist,"

philosophy,

whose

goal

aesthetics or criterion of

in his

Suprematism,

rejects),

In

where

like

called the "temptation of the

mold," and continued, "our

a powerful springboard at the

word and the sound, have stuck onto

not a heavy clay of

web

spider's

in

entangled." Following Plato's essay

dialectic,

two opposing methodological

essence of the to proceed

first,

in

forming a

he described

principles.

in his

The

which he considered a dead end, was

downward from

the particular

things,

which consciousness has become

the most universal notions to

an attempt "to find out the secret"

through an object or thing contained within the boundaries of the material, "created" world:

"through

spirit,

the Old

in

this individualism as

to liberate consciousness: "The threads of the mind, the

whole

gave

over rational consciousness

"On the New and

Matiushin described but

metapo-

creation. Like Roslavets, Malevich

and what Matiushin personal."

inspiration in the

be interpreted as a principle

all

moment

Music,"

creeping "every-

new body must be of brilliant flight,

sorts of lascivious slush." Malevich,

Matiushin, and Roslavets

used the same metaphor of

all

earth to refer to the world of the purely material, the

world revolving around the absolute creative

that

all

will

is

is

human, too human; only

capable of bursting beyond

the bounds of this world and approaching a knowledge of being. As Malevich wrote

in

"Cubism": "A great and

mighty creative power has been shackled by the power of consciousness."

55


In this

overcoming of human dimensions,

that dates to the Renaissance, a world

"human"

some

in

notion set forth by Heidegger

in

phenomenal world, the perception humanity, that

is

in its

the task of

is

knowledge

of the

of being rather than of

and

art,

art

contrasted with that of "art," which

repeatedly regarded as

synonymous

is

polished professional "mastery," implying a utilitarian nature.

In

"Futurism," Malevich wrote:

The unions and guilds of painters that have

arisen

art

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

complicated by the fact

is

its

.

.

.

Kliun

is

always

can embrace

art,

but not

burned up the reasoning

Socialism has illuminated to the world

freedom, and Art has

Creativity."

vague and often

interpretations art

in all

creativity; creativity

vice versa. "Refined culture has

fallen before

the face of

41

began

essay "Nonobjective Art" with a

his

general definition of art and a reference to "the confusion

two notions

of art

art,

.

.

representational art and the art

.

He divided the

of abstract form."

two

with "craft" or

and

creativity

faculty] of art.

of

the idea of the

articles,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

contradictory, but

equated with

is

aspiration to define the "creative will."

Throughout the Supremus "creative will"

respects resembles the

is

it

concepts

that the definitions provided are very

secondary to

"Letter on Humanism."

the ontology of Suprematism,

philosophy

which everything

in

the center of the universe, Suprematism's

is

poetics of dehumanization

In

the rejec-

in

European concept of the "humanist" world

tion of the

stages, with the

first,

extending from "the

entire history of art into

the period of representational

first

awakening of

artistic

consciousness

in

the savage up to and including" Cubism

and Futurism.

In

the second, most recent phase, he wrote,

connection

in

"art has ceased to be a

means and has become an end

in

with the great Russian Revolution eloquently express artisan principles. This

is

the road of classifying people according to their

guild. But there

is

something

classification or guild. This

of an idea, recycling

becomes

in

[of

the

first

in art

is

is

not amenable to any

present

discovered forms, and

an idea or form]

a utilitarian

that

something

product

starts;

...

[it]

it

in

the

first

steps

itself."

continued, "should not have any place

own

ends where the

ceases

its

work and

The "elements of reason, sense,

feeling," he in art; art

has

its

reason and sense."

This rejection of "reason" (or the "old reason")

favor of the creative principle

is

present also

in

in

Malevich's

producing things for the use of

and Kruchenykh's

rhetoric:

"Thought and speech cannot

the majority.

keep up with the experience of inspiration," Kruchenykh Creativity ability,

a

is

regarded as a

skill.

gift,

Suprematism

whereas

art

a trained

is

a revolution, a revolt against

is

the "artisan guilds." Malevich contrasted his concept of creativity to the notion of "art as a utilitarian, ideological (political,

transform to

its

art into a

means": "aesthetic,

propagandistic) functions

means. Only nonobjective

art,

owing

abstraction from the hurly-burly of the personal,

family,

and governmental

rejecting these functions."

life

40

NINA GURIANOVA

of protocols,

is

capable of

Analysis of these

two

wrote

in

"The Declaration of the Word as Such." The

principles of dissonance, disharmony, "shifts"

the

means by which the

aesthetic values are

overcome

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; "through the storm, the

crash, the break, the shine, the

blows of the steps of the

gigantic stride of running, smashing,

Malevich described

in

become

"old reason" and traditional

and

shifting," as

"Greeting to the Suprematists."

Here he introduced the dissonant poetic metaphor of the "angle," which symbolized the rejection of the aesthetic


beauty

criterion of

in

nonobjective

art:

"By lowering the

we

idea of Suprematism into shells of crudeness,

Our

its viability.

step

first

assure

be the beginning of

will

road, of criss-crossing angles." Roslavets wrote

this

in

new

"On

Nonobjective Art":

"collective creativity."

liberating himself

artist

liberates

prevented

psychology and emotions of the spirit

through

come

liberation of art will scholastic

called "science of beauty"

built;

all

have thus

that

crashing

down

far

And with the

true essence.

its

the fortresses of

all

its

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; aesthetics â&#x20AC;&#x201D; because

tenets were derived and

not only did "things vanish

field of vision,

tions

fetters

last

dogmatism erected by the bustling labor of the

from which

in

artist,

Matiushm,

creativity.

the liberation of in

"On the New

Music," wrote:

from the power of the representational, the

from the

art

gone

like

smoke

like

as well

upon which they were based over

it

is

so-

The gifted and

upon which

smoke" from the

was

it

artist's

were the rotten founda-

brilliant

individuals of the past did not notice

that seeping from everywhere into their originally pure creative

flood were trickles of their

little

personal

"I,"

which, as they

merged, muddied and completely perverted their precious

the object

The strongest were obliged to savagely force spiritual

and corporeal nature

in

bearing them into the heavens free from the tasty burden of their

the

Suprematists advanced the "objective" notion of the

wrote

in

"Cubism":

little "I."

2 x 2 = 4 beautiful or ugly?

painting

in

particular,

and

in

2x2

we cannot

= 4.... There are

say they are beautiful.

The same obtains

general there

is

a

artist," a

"whim

negative manifestation of individuality.

of

In

"Thoughts on Art," she wrote: "The creation of epochs

is

[according to the law and therefore] greater than the

Beauty, taste, the ideal are terribly subjective. Everyone will agree

that a square has four corners and that

laws and formulae about which

poor

order to preserve the flame

Udaltsova interpreted feeling and taste as the

creative "law." Malevich

gift

their

entire centuries.

Instead of the "subjective" criterion of beauty, the

Is

make

but a universal idea presumably free from the individual

the

from manifesting

it

set out to

the nonobjective not an individual reflection of the soul,

and the Old In

The Suprematists

in

creation of the individual soul." Matiushin proposed that

the recipe for overcoming the "individual" specifically in the

the art of real,

law

in art

new

music, lay

healthy dissonance.

.

.

in

in

creation,

the "furious protest of

The only thing that can

.

that

smooth out these beaten

tracks

and habitual

inspired pits

spares us this word.

of This idea of the objective law

(from "The artist

Mouth

is

expressed

in

the formula

of the Earth and the Artist"): "The

weary [consonance] and

law based on the of the "earthly"

There

is

collective,

on an overcoming of the ego,

personal set squarely before

a deliberate

tendency

toward the extraindividual

in

the Supremus texts

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a metamorphosis

in

avant-

garde self-image from individual consciousness to

is

the

In this

it."

self-contradictory perception of art as both a

"created construction" subject not to

"one must" the

self.

T

powerful dissonance of the great intuition of the extra-

must do not what he wants, but what must be

done." Malevich's "must" presupposes a universal creative

joys of the personal

in

same time

and

want" but

to

accordance with an objective law, and as an act of pure creative will

rather than of intellect, intelligent

"I

in this

rebellious

antnntellectual, there

of rationalism with mysticism

is

and

pose of the

anti-

a paradoxical union

and utopianism, an

57

at

intuition


approach Malevich himself aptly defined as the

"intuitive

reason" of Suprematism.

Notes I

to thank Geurt Imanse,

like

(London: Gordon

Chief Curator for Research and

represented a

new epistemology

and not merely this

Suprematism

entire depth, Malevich's notion of

In its

a

of art, a spiritual quest,

Documentation,

in

He continued

painting.

Amsterdam, and the Foundation

10. Malevich,

Cultural Center Khardzhiev-Chaga for

fevrale

quest beyond the boundaries of painting;

lished materials

archive.

in articles

Rougle

on poetry and music,

in

brochures, and even

he

in letters,

of expressing the

new

weight of

critical

language capable

am

I

from the Khardzhiev

for his

remained

in his

generous help with the

Amsterdam. Malevich, untitled unpublished

1

manuscript ("Chelovek est pechat

took upon himself the labor of

Malevich's literary style that

is

It

is

precisely

K.

Foundation Cultural Center Khardzhiev-

Kovtun,

the key to understanding

May

12.

29, 1915,

god

is

and imperatively dogmatic. The

ecstatic

is

Malevich, letter to Matiushin,

27, 1915,

reminiscent of a passionate, fanatical

M V sermon.

In this

furious attitude toward art

is

something

religious, or

more

exactly, heretical: his

be "believed

all

in." Similarly,

Malevich, letter to Matiushin,

29, 1915,

in his

May

"Malevich, K Pisma

in

Matiushinu," p

k

186

September 24, 1915,

it,

V

in

"Malevich, K

Matiushinu," p

Olga Rozanova,

letter to

14. See

E.

Kovtun's commentaries

F.

Matiushinu,"

p.

15 Malevich,

letter to

in

M

V

180.

Matiushin,

"Malevich, K. Pisma p.

16.

M

k

V

195.

M. M. Bakhtin, "Toward a

Methodology

187

Human

for the

Bakhtin, Speech Genres

Late Essays, trans. Vern

Sciences,"

and Other

W

McGee

in

(Austin: University of Texas, 1986),

Experiment 5 (1999), pp. 77-78.

was

Cultural Center

"Malevich, K Pisma k

Aleksei

Kruchenykh, December 1915,

the school

the Khardzhiev

in

Amsterdam.

in

5.

is

The Foundation

Khardzhiev-Chaga, Stedelijk Museum,

1917,

exceeded the boundaries of purely professional definitions

As he understood

The document

Matiushinu,"

interpretation far

May

Malevich, letter to Matiushin,

Pisma k M.

or notions of the guild.

13.

in

the 4.

notion of the school or group

May

Pisma k

Matiushinu," pp. 185-86.

M V theories must above

K.

and the word 3

there

"Malevich,

in

Matiushin,

Gurianova, Exploring Color,

168

p

archive.

186.

p.

in

F

(Leningrad: Rukopisnyi otdel

tone 2.

of his essays

E

Doma na 1974

Pushkinskogo Doma, 1976),

categorical

Museum, Amsterdam.

letter to

"Malevich,

in

Matiushinu," ed.

Ezhegodnik rukopisnogo

in

Rozanova,

1917, V.

otdela Pushkinskogo

the essence of his theories. His Suprematist language

Stedelijk

Kazimir Malevich, letter to Mikhail

Pisma k M.

.")

.

(1917), Khardzhiev archive, The

valuable comments.

Matiushin,

the absurd paradoxes and irony of alogism.

The Foundation Cultural Center

deeply grateful to John Malmstad.

many 1.

unpub-

v marte,"

and

Chaga,

writings of the romantic pathos of Futurist manifestos or

i

manuscript (1917), Khardzhiev

Khardzhiev-Chaga, Stedelijk Museum,

reading the manuscript and offered

his ideas. Little

lished

1

am who

Breach, 2000),

"Shto proiskhodelo v

1917 goda

archive,

indebted to Charles

translation of the original citations, I

agonizingly searched for a

unpub-

&

the Early

1910-1918

169.

p.

Museum,

Stedelijk

their gracious help in obtaining

new method

and

Color Olga Rozanova Russian Avant-garde

would

p

a "laboratory-house," a political party, a religion: 6.

166.

Malevich, letter to Matiushin,

17 Yurkevich, untitled unpublished

September 25, 1915,

Who The

will pass

New

on the new book of new laws from our tablets?

Gospel

in art.

.

.

.

heaven on earth,

Christ revealed

.

.

.

set

an end to space, established two boundaries, two poles. ... As

Pisma k M.

V

we

will pass

thousands of poles.

.

heaven, stronger, more powerful, and our

.

.

Space

is

new book

larger than

7

manuscript (1917), Khardzhiev archive,

The Foundation Cultural Center Khardzhiev-Chaga, Stedelijk Museum,

teaches the

Pisma k

M V

explains the

in

"Malevich, K. 18.

Matiushinu,"

1916 dating

of

p.

Supremus manuscripts,

1917,

archive.

is

in

in

letter to

Matiushin,

p.

168

particu-

the Khardzhiev

The Foundation Cultural Center

19 Rozanova,

Shemshunn,

letter to

late

May

Andrei

1917,

Gurianova, Exploring Color,

in

p.

June 18, 1917, Manuscript Division, Institute of Russian Literature

Amsterdam.

(Pushkinskii

Rozanova,

1916,

in

letter to

Kruchenykh,

Nina Gurianova, Exploring

171.

20. Rozanova, letter to Matiushin,

Khardzhiev-Chaga, Stedelijk Museum,

9.

May

Gurianova, Exploring Color,

of the

Matiushm's, which

The document

Rozanova,

186. This

some

was not sent until 1917 but was probably begun in 1916 and then laid aside larly

8.

NINA GURIANOVA

Amsterdam.

Malevich, letter to Matiushin,

extant

space of the wilderness. 42

"Malevich, K

pp 180-81

October 27, 1916,

for us,

in

Matiushinu,"

Dom),

f.

656.


"

1

Rozanova,

2

Shemshurin,

"Futunzm" (1917),

31. Malevich,

Andrei

letter to

in

Gunanova, Exploring

published

in

173

Color, p.

32 Ivan

Kliun,

Moi put

Vospominaniia,

1916-1918,"

RA, 1999), pp. 250-54

Udaltsova. Zhizn russkoi

kubistki. Dnevniki, stati,

vospominaniia

(Moscow: RA, 1994),

39

23

Ibid,

p.

(1917); published (with the

"Supremus")

stati,

from the

"Privetstvie suprematis-

tam" (1917). published in Experiment 5 77-78 All quotes from this

(1999), pp.

due

from the published source,

to differences in the interpretation

manuscript (1917), Khardzhiev archive,

handwriting.

38

see

summer

An

identical

Color, p.

Museum, Amsterdam

Stedelijk

copy of

Moscow,

Gallery,

Chaga, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

this text,

from

40.

published

is

my

in

Modern

(1917), published in Experiment 5

in

in

Gurianova, Exploring

56.

Quoted from the

original manuscript

Foundation Cultural Center Khardzhiev-

41.

Stedelijk

Museum, Amsterdam.

Ibid.

41 (Berkeley: Berkeley Slavic

Specialties, 1999), pp.

203-05.

42. Malevich, letter to Matiushm,

1917, is

Rozanova wrote to Udaltsova

tion,"

My

April 1917. "1)

rather than from the published source,

in

"Malevich, K Pisma k M.

V.

ready for publica-

Matiushinu," p

this

from the original manuscript

1

Russian Literature and Culture,

35. "The following

quotes from

1915,

the Khardzhiev archive, The

Chaga,

literaturnogo naslediia Kruchenykh,

vol.

"Kubizm" ("Cubism")

All

Exploring Color

Foundation Cultural Center Khardzhiev-

Iz

Foundation Cultural Center Khardzhiev-

pp 94-97

Suprematism and color-painting,

in

my

39. Rozanova, letter to Kruchenykh,

manuscript, Khardzhiev archive. The

manuscript, Khardzhiev archive. The

26. K. Malevich,

For a detailed discussion of

color

34 Aleksei Kruchenykh, "Deklaratsua

Matiushin's archive at the State Tretiakov

text are

differ-

the interpretation of Malevich's

in

Rozanova's contribution to the theory of

Amsterdam

iskusstve" (1917), unpublished

(1999),

this text are

from the published source, due to ences

Chaga,

"O bespredmet-

Nikolai Roslavets,

nom

quotes from

slova kak takovogo" (1913-17),

original manuscript

from the

of Malevich's handwriting

25

All

original manuscript rather than

33 Udaltsova, untitled unpublished

Khardzhiev-Chaga, Stedelijk Museum,

rather than

pp 90-92.

The Foundation Cultural Center

p 42

24 K Malevich,

text are

title

Experiment 5 (1999),

in

v iskusstve.

dnevniki (Moscow:

22 Nadezhda Udaltsova, "Dnevnik in

37 Malevich, "Nashe soznanie

no 57 (1918)

Anarkhiia.

195

in

['Cubism,

article

Futurism, Suprematism'] 2) Kruchenykh's

due

to differences

in

the interpretation

Word'

play 3) 'Declaration of the

4) the

of Malevich's handwriting.

poetry collection Balos and 5) Blue 27. K. Malevich, "Usta zemli

i

khudozh-

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Eggs

two

of these

collections

nik" (1916-17), unpublished manuscript,

Kruchenykh suggested printing whatever

Khardzhiev archive, The Foundation

we

Cultural Center Khardzhiev-Chaga,

here as well;

Stedelijk

Museum, Amsterdam

My two poems

think possible.

Malevich that

tell

object to including

them

Exploring Color,

169.)

28 Rozanova, "Kubizm, futunzm, supre-

p.

"

are

don't

(Gunanova,

The

manuscripts of Rozanova's

matizm" ("Cubism, Futurism,

I

original

article

"Cubism. Futurism, Suprematism" and

Suprematism") (1917), manuscript, private collection, first in

English, in

Moscow, published from Painting to

Oesign: Russian Constructivist Art of the Twenties, exh. cat E

,

ed.

and

trans.

John

Bowlt (Cologne: Galene Gmurzynska,

1981), pp.

"0 Starom Novom i

in

a

Moscow.

private collection in

36. All of these unpublished manuscripts

are

in

the Khardzhiev archive,

Amsterdam.

same

100-13

29. Matiushm,

her and Kruchenykh's poetry are

In

a note to Malevich in the

archive, Udaltsova

another

mentioned

Supremus,

article for

v

"Otnoshenie publiki

muzyke" (March 20, 1916), authorized

nomu

iskusstvu,"

i

kntiki k

sovremen-

and suggested the

typewritten original, Manuscript Division,

Mayakovsky Museum, Moscow,

following order for printing her materiinv.

no. als:

"1)

first this

11865 ['No. 8'], 2)

30. Malevich, "Arkhitektura kak

Critic's

poshchechma zhelezo-betonu" (1917),

'Thoughts on

published

in

the

Moscow

anarchist

essay

then 'The Public and the

Attitude Art.'

'

3) letters, 4)

...

My

letter to

you

is

better not to publish, perhaps.

newspaper Anarkhna. no. 37 (1918).

59


22

SUPREMATISMUS

MALEWITSCM

1913-20

PAGE FROM

EL LISSITZKY

LES ISMES DE

AND HANS

ARP, DIE

KUNSTISMEN

CART THE ISMS OF ART (ERLENBACH-

ZURICH- EUGEN RENTSCH, 1925)


< >

>

THE OPTIMISM OF A N O N O B "The optimism of defined

E

J

all.

is

how

Kazimir Malevich

Bog ne Not Cast Down: Art,

the philosophical polemical tract

Tserkov, Fabrika

Church, Factory, 1922). tion at

I

a nonobjectivist": This

his position in

skinut: Iskusstvo,

CTI V ST

(God

Lissitzky did

El

Is

not understand this posi-

1

The relationship between these two major

figures of twentieth-

century art has always attracted attention. enthusiast of a

renewal of Jewish

art,

Was

the

Lissitzky,

Malevich's student

in

the usual sense of the word? Did Lissitzky betray Marc Chagall for

Malevich? Did

Lissitzky betray

European Constructivism

tivism? Did Lissitzky betray

realism? Lissitzky's art

was

Malevich for European Construc-

a

busy crossroads. Here the history of

Suprematism and Unovism met the garde,

Moscow

of the

1920s,

for Stalinist

history of the Jewish avant-

Constructivism, the European International Style

Dutch De

Stijl,

the Bauhaus, and the Eastern

European avant-garde. These myriad connections help us understand more

fully

the development and uniqueness of the ideas of

Malevich and Unovis. Lissitzky

never forgot the role played

with Suprematism. Even

in

in his life

by

his

encounter

the years of his conscious amnesia

about everything avant-garde, he calmly and unhesitatingly

61

said,


"A

special influence

Malevich." 2 light that

many new

word

"rivalry."

Creative rivalry

does not preclude friendship,

break

with the

late

have come to

facts

and

in

at least to a point, but a

Moscow would open

in

in

mid-November.

in

(It

did

March 25, 1920.)

until

As of November professor

of

1,

Vitebsk.

It

was

1919, Malevich

looked as

and impoverished winter

in

registered as a

he would avoid the cold

if

Moscow, where people were

He would get

stealing fences for fuel.

inevitable.

is

planning

open, but not

allow us confidently to replace the word "friend-

ship" with the itself

me was my friendship

on

recent years,

In

a rest

from the

constant conflicts with Izo Narkompros (the Department of

Do you remember

when we were planning

1919,

Suprematism and wanted

to write a

work on

to

book?

Fine Arts of the People's Commissariat of Education).

Malevich's usual

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Malevich to

Lissitzky,

Vladimir

Where

make

did they

Moscow?

these plans

1919, Lissitzky

In

came

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Vitebsk or

in

Moscow

to

bought

his

apprentices to buy materials for his workshop and invited

Malevich to teach with him

in

The

Vitebsk.

invitation

was

signed by Vera Ermolaeva, rector of the Vitebsk Popular Art School,

who knew

probably checked not

know

Malevich from Petrograd. Lissitzky had all

it

Malevich. Chagall

Suprematist's arrival Ivan Puni (Jean

several

with the director, Chagall,

in

"my

no threat

felt

in

Vitebsk." After

Pougny) had worked

who

did

the Futurist

conflicts

for

them

between

me

away. ...

swiftly.

I

He had

just

Lissitzky three

to Vitebsk."

enough time trip

something took

to

4 It

happened

It

in

took Malevich

that his studio at the

Workshops be

new

place?

He

still

kept.

How would

When

hoped

work out

that a solo exhibition he

VASILII RAKITIN

view

the radical outlook of the

in

May

1919,

was

who

had

his

Kandinsky had a

(just as

in

was

Moscow

innovators. 6

were plans to publish Malevich's theo-

Vitebsk, there

novykh sistemakh v iskusstve (On

retical text

in Art),

to which Malevich

the

New

added "Ustanovlenie

("Statute A"). Three paintings by Malevich, Portrait of

Cow on

Violin (1913),

and

were hung

at the Pervaia

gosu-

the Artist Kliun (1913),

Suprematism

(n.d.),

(First

i

moskovskikh

State Exhibition of Paintings by Local in

after Malevich's arrival there. Lissitzky

Vitebsk a

titled

17, Malevich

"Latest Trends

Futurism)." This

was

in

week

showed works on

Jewish themes. Chagall worried about nothing.

November

Second State Free

things

Parisian, point of

and Moscow Artists), which opened

Vitebsk, Malevich immediately telegraphed

Moscow, asking Art

own,

khudozhnikov

days to get to Smolensk, where they

spent the night before continuing on their journey. they arrived

they would

charge of reform-

in

darstvennaia vystavka kartin mestnykh

do the paperwork

to Vitebsk.

put

David Shterenberg, head of Izo Narkompros,

A"

didn't leave,

was taken away

necessary for a business

and

"I

who had been

Second State Free Art Workshops

Systems

to arise.

Malevich was amazed:

Brik,

museums

to which

wary of him. However, Malevich's main "enemy" was

In

him and Chagall. Or perhaps there simply had not been

enough time

about which paintings would be

museums and

and Osip

ing the

at the school for

months and there had been no

a lot to say

for

prewar Munich point of view), which differed greatly from

the

all,

go,

5

but he also argued with Vasily Kandinsky,

Tatlin,

who had

in

with

opponent within the avant-garde was

1924 3

gave a lecture

On

at the exhibition,

Art (Impressionism, Cubism, and

a familiar topic for him, but for the


<»1CW0B£f«HHE

audience, which included intellectuals from Petrograd,

was

new

strange,

Two

with interest. Lissitzky

artist

had once had on

as a professor ally,

defense of pure

must work

became

who

Lissitzky.

art:

on the students,

like

and

told

as fourteen)

weeks. He was supported, on the

and Nina Kogan. At

become not

The

faculty,

Lissitzky's request,

He was sure

would be published "by

collective

why

in

a

in just

only "the trace of

my

few

by Ermolaeva

he edited

that the thin book,

primitive

a

On New

path but the start of our

project of the "collective

movement"

led by

Committee

where the committee's main meeting was

city

to be

sketch for the curtain, 10 perhaps Lissitzky and

Malevich's only joint decorative project, was,

if

NEW SYSTEMS

ART (VITEBSK. 1919)

not the

come

the Futurists and

to establish

wanted

its

(for

leadership

new

came up with

Art. Unity. Their

common

the

among

the

art? But

word:

a

motto could

cause). Unovis tried

city's art circles.

Forms

1920

in Art,

with Malevich,

Lissitzky,

member

came from

all

Chagall, even

of the

sides.

It

New

Ermolaeva, and

director of the school until the

Ivan Gavris, a

first

though he

end of June

Unovis Creative

later that

"propaganda

reached the point at which Marc

Chagall, under pressure from the extreme

left,

could not

move-

ment. His audience had been propagandized away."" That Unovis worked

is

due

in

great part to Lissitzky

and

Ermolaeva, but Malevich's ideas and his very image had a decisive impact

first,

It

to replace the cultural structures of the local

establish the ideology of his individual-innovator

to

painted 1,500 square

meters of canvas, three buildings, and the stage of the

A

have been pro unovis

New

Committee, related eight years

anniversary convocation of the Vitebsk

held.

only followers? Finally they

was considered

Malevich and Lissitzky was decorations for the two-year-

theater,

IN

Kogan on the board. They forgot

which

methods," 8 would

Combat Unemployment. The group

PAGE FROM KAZIMIR MALEVICH, ON

they to define

authorities with the Council for the Affirmation of

movement." 9

first

How were

Cubists? But after the Cubists had

group of young people (some as

had formed around him

MMBflK

of the Vitebsk school.

Unovis. Affirmers of the

A

a

the Suprematists. As young followers of the

alive in

that modernity represented purity of

favorable atmosphere.

in Art.

was

movement

themselves? As young

course,

Malevich, a born prophet and leader, found himself

Systems

to feel theirs

bound by the frame-

not

the individual.

young

began

work

others, played at revolutionary talk, but

them

MHK

around Malevich

special creative

but as a

art,

he also called passionately on the students to be art

as

of views called Suprematism,

was before them. Of

OHMUXQ

and opened the path

style

artists

They perceived him not only

unknown system

for

the Suprematist

The group of young

Malevich's followers. His effect

first

WA

to his Prouns.

could teach them to work profession-

the discoverer of which Malevich,

9,

bird sings

Lissitzky in

7

European-style, to earn a living from their

guide to the

then one of the

it

received

on December

"A

just as freely."

overwhelming

personality had an it

in

students

Lissitzky's

followed. At one,

rallies

spoke out

and an

freely

was

information, and the lecture

CTAFOTO

on Unovis and the

the 1920s. 12 Malevich proposed a

63

fate of

new

Suprematism

artistic ideology,

in


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("Betrothed by the Ring of the Horizon and the

'l

Ba»w)n ifrrtcnl ID Hip(n.«~

eve of the revolutionary events of February 1917 POSTER FOR MALEVICH'S LECTURE "BETROTHED BY THE RING

NEW

OF THE HORIZON AND

CONSERVATORY. FEBRUARY

IDEAS

ART," THE

IN

MOSCOW

doing

toward

art,

the 1920s'?'

in

as a philosophy

he countered not only

so,

ideologies of

but also the

art,

and

earlier

new

Conservatory. The

the idols of the intelligentsia: Dmitri Merezhkovsky, an

— who

— but way

a

new

a

of

life.

ideologue of Symbolism and the

new

ness; Alexandre Benois,

and

the

In

and contemporary

structures that post-

artistic

an

artist

World of

association

religious consciouscritic

and leader of

Art; Nikolai Berdyaev, a

leading figure of the religio-philosophical renaissance of

the

Silver

and

Petr

Age and one

of the precursors of existentialism;

Kogan, a Marxist and a

sociologist,

active foes of

Malevich, Lissitzky did not have a globalizing idea. Devoted

of the lecture bore a calm, positive character.

new

possibilities

art as a

sensitive to the

and developed over

being

real-

a long period of time, as a

synthetic system similar to that of the Antique or the

Gothic. His idea awaited those refining, polishing,

him,

was

a

would do

way

this.

with enviable perspectives Early on,

new

organic

realize

it,

irrationalist,

he

who

built teaching,

path for seeking

new

As

art in

the 1920s. But the concluding part

art

how

to

make

the basis of training and educat-

artistic personality.

VASILII RAKITIN

One

of the

first

Without any

and Suprematist drawings and paintings,

persuade the audience and to explain

confirmations

his princi-

he drew Cubist pictures. (Masterly

a visual aid,

composition would subsequently be used by Malevich's students In

art

in

Vitebsk.)

1918-19, Malevich's

still

rather abstract concepts of

teaching took on concrete shape and

simultaneously at the his assistant

First

State Free Art

was Nadezhda

Antome school,

Pevsner).

a

He taught

Workshops

his assistant

The teaching experience

where Malevich had

Klutsis, Ivan

clarity.

Udaltsova) and the

Second State Free Art Workshops (where

he had begun thinking about

of the

drawing as a method of explaining the laws of modern

(where

in art.

new

ples.

Teaching, for

it.

and creating the people

rationality, as a

the experience of ing a

who would

and elaborating on

of finding

An

Cubist, Futurist, trying to

his idea of a universal art

new

one

attempt to shock, Malevich demonstrated and explained

own.

Malevich imagined ized

whole and

and nuances of the new, he perceived them

personally, as his

the

began,

as usual, with a sarcastic reply to the foes of avant-garde

October Revolution Russia was offering the world. Unlike

to the idea of

in

artist

1917

25,

with which he hoped not only to change the world didn't grandly proclaim that

Moscow

Small Hall of the

art,

attitude

Ideas

Cubism, Futurism, Suprematism"), presented on the

in Art: lirru

idei

P«l™

ifnm qten

S

his public

1 ipwr'fTop) i

1**1 Si

polemicizing with everyone

and everything to constructive work had been

wmx

lieiiuiiiinirig^Wnwii'

move from

of his intention to

was

at the latter

profound impact on Gustav

Kudriashev, and Sergei Senkin,

was

particularly


valuable.

Shapiro

was

It

also here that

Meerzon and

losif

Group

Tevel

the construction of the

(later Tatlin's assistants in

ment.

.

.

2.

Cubism.

Cubism and nature,

.

.

The symmetry

.

in

statics

and move-

painting of color elements, mass of

form and construction. Sculpture. Constructing forms by the

model of the Monument to the Third Communist

system of Cubism.

and Georgi Krutikov (who would stun

International [1919])

Group

Moscow's

architectural circles

the late 1920s with

in

his

project for a flying city) got their start. In

Art Workshops, presented to the Soviet of Masters and

Group of

this

.

.

.

4.

city

and country,

as things influencing the course of

moment.

Suprematism.

.

Constructing forms by the system

clearly outlined his

program are

of

this,

Malevich's idea of organizing a Russia-wide

several passages

Unovis group based on that relate particularly to his future teaching

(indeed, a comparison of this

Futurism and nature,

and country

Suprematism

In light

teaching process. Within

Futurism. city

construction of a dynamic

the program for his studio at the Second State Free

dated September 15, 1919, Malevich

3.

elements of

in

Vitebsk

seem

unrealistic:

his

teaching program does not

the general, most fundamental principles

program with the programs had already been

laid out.

from Vitebsk shows a conscious borrowing): Group

Abstraction of things, knowledge of painting and

1.

sculptural volumes, planes, lines,

and

/

am

running the entire school, learning from myself.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Malevich to Mikhail Gershenzon,

curves. Preparatory course

1920

-

for Cubism.

The Suprematism that Malevich brought These precepts became the foundation for assignments in

the preparatory workshop taught by Nina Kogan

Vitebsk.

Vitebsk Creative

she

"On the Schedule

her article

In

Program of Unovis,

cites, as

"

published

Committee

1

workshops

Every thing planes,

basically

the main idea

is

about

how

is,

20, 1920),

"primacy of color," geometry.

It

it

operated

in

did not matter that

not very understandable.

language of

a

Its

the pure language of

its

philosophical basis

language was

icons, in that icon painting

is

like

was

the

taught and the

at the

time was organiz-

Orenburg): or

made up

of

lines, curves,

come from the movement

volumes, and

of the point. But ...

is

turned

an organism. [F]rom what has become clear

things and

what they

November

that each of these primary elements

into a body, that

of

in

composed

is

which

,

great advantage

had

over other systems of art. Extolling the

the guide for action, a fragment of a letter

from Malevich to Kudnashev (who ing art

of the Unified

Unovis: Handbill of the

in

(no.

in

to Vitebsk

all

that

primarily consist,

is

visible in

nature are formed, and

came the new method

Malevich's Second State Free Art

of teaching.